Transitioning from summer fun, swimming pools and beach vacations to new teachers, structured lesson plans and harder-than-last-year homework can be a total shock to kids’ systems. As if entering a new grade (and possibly a new school) wasn’t already hard enough, the sharp contrast between July’s carefree activities and September’s strict schedule can add another layer of stress to grade school children.
To help these children avoid back-to-school shock this year, Sittercity.com has some back-to-school tips that parents — and after-school nannies and babysitters — can follow to help make the school-year transition a smooth one.
BRING BACK THE SCHOOL-YEAR ROUTINES
Summertime often means open schedules and the ability to do/plan anything you’d like. The school year, of course, is the complete opposite. To help children go from summer’s freedom to the school year’s structured scheduling, start implementing consistent dinnertimes, bedtime routines and bedtimes at least one week before the first day of school (if not earlier).
VISIT THE SCHOOL/CLASSROOM
To help the stress that stems from the fear of the unknown, take younger children to the school so they can see their new classroom before school actually starts. Be enthusiastic and get excited about everything — “Look at that! Your name is already on your cubby!” (Even better if the child can meet his teacher.) Afterwards, do something extra special like going out for ice cream to help end the experience on a positive note.
READ BACK-TO-SCHOOL BOOKS
Kids love to be read to and books are a great way to bring back-to-school issues out into the open so you or your babysitter can address them before school actually starts. When you’re done reading, ask questions like, “What did you think of that?” or, “Are you excited like character-X or a little nervous like character-Y?”
ARRANGE A BACK-TO-SCHOOL PLAYDATE
If your child knows any of the children who are going to be in the classroom this year, arrange a late summer playdate with that child so your own little one will feel more comfortable walking into school and seeing a familiar face.
ROLE-PLAY WITH EDUCATION
Get babysitters involved by introducing school-themed make-believe games. Kids love these role-playing activities — not to mention it could reveal some underlying concerns that your child has about the upcoming school year. According to the APA, “in a number of studies, Singer and Singer’s (1992, 2001) research team trained parents, teachers and home care providers in make-believe games that included lessons about numbers, colors, shapes, vocabulary and reading. These researchers found that children who play with their caregivers in these imaginative ways make significant gains in readiness skills, as compared to a control group whose caregivers did not learn these play skills.”
GET KIDS INVOLVED
Every parent knows that going back to school requires quite a bit of prep work — let your kids help! They can pack their backpacks the night before (throw in a familiar toy, picture or little note if it will help them feel more secure), help make their own lunches and pick out their favorite clothes for the big day.
BE POSITIVE AND ENTHUSIASTIC
Help get your child excited about going back to school by talking about all of the fun aspects of getting back in the classroom. Remind him of all the fun he’s going to have at recess with other kids, how good he’ll be great at kickball in gym, how incredibly smart he’s going to be from all the lessons and how cool it will be to do new activities in the classroom — things he can show you and his after-school babysitter when he gets home!
INTRODUCE THE NEW AFTER-SCHOOL BABYSITTER
If your summer sitter is heading back to college and you already know who the after-school replacement will be, make sure your child does too. Invite the after-school babysitter over for a mother’s helper period where she watches the kids while you’re still home (yes, you’ll be paying her). That way, the kids get to know her but still have the comfort of knowing that you’re in the other room.
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