Of course not all kids or parents look forward to this time. For some parents the mere challenge of getting all the supplies nowadays required by financially strapped school districts can be daunting. The cost of such supplies is also often a heavy burden and stress for many families to bear. Getting backpacks ready, binders and paper supplies is not only costly but requires time, effort, and a certain amount of organizational skill. In addition many children, and parents, have been in “summer mode” by getting to bed late and sleeping later. The days are also still long making the normal signals from Mother Nature to rest ill attuned to the schedule for a modern world. There can also be a general lapse in routine, getting chores done and attention to detail.
Since I think of school as a child’s job it is important to help coach and direct them toward success in their work. Most children need structure in order to do their job well. Routines can help achieve this goal. School season routines start several weeks before the first morning bell sounds and the transition lasts several weeks after the first day of classes. Beginning to reset the body clock to be ready to go to sleep early enough is especially important. For some families it helps to bring bedtime slowly back rather than suddenly. If school night bedtime is 8:00pm, for example, then several days to weeks prior to the start of the school year it is important to slowly bring bedtime back to the desired time.
Rewards are not bribery but incentives for jobs well-done! Even adults appreciate and work hard for an appreciation from a boss, extra pay for overtime etc. Children also respond well to rewards. But, the rewards must be meaningful and individualized for each child. Young children often will respond quite successfully to reward charts, marbles in a jar or other concrete ways for them to see they’ve done well. A bedtime chart can go a long way toward easing into the new school schedule. For older children and teens other incentives such as earning technology time can work well. Such incentives also have the added bonus of increasing a child’s self-esteem when they work hard to earn a parent/teacher etc. respect and appreciation.
So, find positive ways to transition away from the lazy days of summer and into a more focused time of learning!