Kim Hudson: Getting your kids ready for school’s return

I’ve just recently finished a little “back to school” shopping with my daughter. She’s starting middle school so we bought a new backpack, lunch box and tennis shoes.

Even though we are not yet ready for summer to end at my house, I’ve always found that school shopping helps get the kids a little excited about the upcoming school year. The dread starts to melt away as new things inspire new beginnings.

It goes without saying, though, that transitions are hard — whether you are 5 years old and entering kindergarten or 18 years old and starting college. And while the transition may be hard on the child, it is usually the parent(s) who struggle the most.

So regardless of whether you are in denial that school is starting soon or you’ve got it down to the day, hour and minute of when the bus will arrive to whisk your child away, here are a few helpful hints to think about in the coming weeks.

Everything you read tells you to get into a routine at least a week before school starts. Kids should start going to bed earlier to prepare them for the early school morning. This never works in my house. I don’t even try anymore.

After spending the summer staying up late, my kids can’t fall asleep early. What I’ve found is the natural rhythm of early rising, coupled with a full day of school, tires out even the most stubborn late nighter.

What really works, in my house at least, is a cut-off time for electronics. I tell my kids they can stay up but the television and any other electronic device (phone, iPod, etc) must be off. Arguing over what time to go to bed is never a good way to end the day. Taking away the distractions leaves most kids with little left to do.

Reading is always an option at my house but I know some kids would stay up all hours of the night to finish a great book so even books have a cut off time.

One thing that can help prevent late-night stress is getting homework done as early as possible. When my kids were in elementary school it was the rule that homework had to be finished before doing anything else. That gets harder as they get older and more involved in sports or after school activities. But if you set the foundation for completing homework first at an early age, they learn the importance of getting it done and it makes it easier down the road.

As you are attending Back to School nights and orientations, look for a parent or two that has a child in the same grade or a grade older than your child that you can connect with. I found it especially helpful when my son entered middle school and then again in high school. It’s very useful to have another parent that you can call when you have a question or just need to understand something better.

And if you have a quiet child, one that doesn’t share much information, invite his or her friends over and carpool whenever you can. Kids talk and share when they are together which gives you a chance to learn more about what’s going on in your child’s life.

As you enjoy the last weeks of summer, remember kids are resilient. You may be worried about them starting middle or high school, kindergarten or college, but most likely they are nervous yet excited. It’s a great time in their lives and if they know you are excited for them, it makes the transition so much easier.

Contact Kim Hudson at tkhudson@comcast.net.

 

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