Summer Tips: Improve the Back-to-School Transition

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It’s the last week before school begins and time to enjoy a bit of calm before the hustle and bustle of car rides, homework, and extracurricular activities. These tips will help your family transition smoothly from summer into a new school year.

Tap into creativity through boredom:

If summer has been chock-full of activity, now is the time to rein it in. It is absolutely okay – and even good – for kids to feel bored. Given the chance, kids will easily find ways to resolve their boredom. Over the next few days, provide thirty minutes to an hour (depending on the child’s age) of non-structured “nothing time.” Encourage old-school play that does not include being entertained by screens or other people. If kids need some guidance to get started, set them up with items like cards, blocks, magnetic tiles, puzzles, dolls or art supplies – and then walk away. This is an opportunity for kids to entertain themselves and to discover what they enjoy and where they excel.

Another great option is to assign kids an independent, creative project and set them free to work on it. This could include planning and choreographing a show or dance. Provide them time to create a script, find a costume, create props, design a program, and set the stage before their big performance. If that is not quite your kid’s style, try an engineering project (like building a robot or bridge) that includes household items like boxes, popsicles sticks, plastic cups, and tape. 

Encourage independence:

Send kids back to school with confidence by encouraging practical skills. For younger kids, let them pick out their own clothes and dress themselves. Other skills they can do on their own or with minimal help: teeth-brushing, filling up their own water glass and tying their shoes. Older kids can get their own snacks and help with meal prep, whether it’s measuring, pouring, mixing or cutting. 

Age-appropriate chores that build competence include sorting laundry, making beds, unloading the dishwasher, and cleaning windows or mirrors. You can also have kids organize their dresser or desk drawers as a way to start fresh for the new school year. They’ll tap into their decision-making skills by choosing what stays and what goes.

These important life lessons teach kids that they’re capable of trying and accomplishing new things. As a result, you will be sending your kids off to school as more self-reliant, motivated and perseverant.

Ease into a Back-to-School Mindset:

Good sleep habits are probably the most difficult shift from summer into back-to-school mode, but we know it’s imperative for overall health and behavior. So start now by reestablishing a sleeping schedule that gradually includes earlier bedtimes and wake-ups. 

It might also be helpful to incorporate some aspects of school into daily routine. Maybe create an agenda that shows morning and afternoon activities, including planned reading time and set snack and lunch times. This also can help kids get back on their school-year eating schedule and say goodbye to the lax snacking habits of summer. 

Engage younger children in “playing school” to remind them of some basics. Activities can include writing their name and date, taking a mini spelling quiz, or practicing speaking skills through show and tell. Older kids will benefit from one “academic” activity per day, whether it’s writing a letter to a family member, completing a worksheet, practicing multiplication flashcards or finishing a crossword puzzle. 

One final idea as we say goodbye to summer is to have kids complete a journal highlighting some of their favorite summer moments. This can simply be leftover lined paper stapled together like a book. Young learners can draw pictures and label them by sounding out the spelling of the words; older learners can write a paragraph describing each memorable experience with illustrations optional.

Relax, get some rest and set healthy and happy intentions for a fun and successful school year!