August…how can it be August? Wasn’t the last day of school just last week?
These thoughts pop into my head a lot during the last few weeks of summer. I feel like we (my children and I) are finally settled in holiday mode and now we’re gearing up for back to school.
What that means in some houses might look a whole lot different than mine but as a teacher and a parent, I can share some insight into how my schedule and expectations change as we head into the final few weeks before heading back to ‘routine’. I realize not everyone is ‘off’ during the summer months, but anyone with children knows that our families take a considerable shift once the bell rings at the end of June. Whether you were able to take holidays or worked throughout July and August, there are still a few things to consider mid-August to attempt a smoother transition back to school in September.
At my house, summer means sleeping when you want. Staying up late (especially because my children are now teenagers) and sleeping in…but I know my sleeping routine changed even when they were younger. Suddenly staying up for a campfire or watching fireflies after dark becomes an option. Once school is in, sleep schedules are a necessity – for both children and their parents. A few weeks before school, I start easing my kids back into the needed times for lights out and morning alarms just so that first early ‘back-to-school’ morning doesn’t hit us all like bricks.
We also work on personal organization. Summer is a great time to reflect on what they did last year and how it can get better. Evaluate how your family operated through the chaos of the school year. Did you have a specific place to store school notes and newsletters, homework, back packs? Was it a good system or does it need tweaking? These are important things to consider as families head into September.
Scheduling…calendars…. this can make or break families as we head back to school. During the summer, many people get to take holidays, enjoy last minute adventures and fun or engage in the ‘nothingness’ that is an amazing day at home in their pajamas. However, once everyone in the house gets back to a more consistent routine, we work on planning it together. A large, family calendar that can be accessed by everyone (even the littlest ones) helps to keep everyone in the know – and knowing is the first step to calm. The fewer the surprises, whether school-based activities or extra-curricular, work trips for parents or homework due dates, the fewer the meltdowns.
S-L-O-W-I-N-G D-O-W-N During our weeks off, we often have the urge to cram as much as we can into those days. Trips and holidays, day camps and programs, family visits and house guests. At my house, we designate the last week to SLOW. We don’t often have much planned and we take that one final ‘breath’ before we all start back into ‘real life’. Within days of starting back, your life will seem crazy, so embrace the last moments (whether days or nights) and enjoy them. Family dinners or after-dinner walks without the worry of homework or assignments is something to be reveled in.
Everyone will head back to ‘routine’ a little differently, but there are a few points that always need to be considered and as I greet my wee ones in my class on day one, I definitely appreciate the families who made the whole ‘back-to-school’ idea a thoughtful and enjoyable experience as I watch their children ease through the transition. With a little consideration for the notes above, everyone will be a little happier when the bell rings in September. All things considered, it should be a great start to another great year!
Written by parent and educator, Carolyn Natterer