Acclimating to the new changes and routines can be daunting for parents and children alike at the start of the school year. New school schedules are often trying for students following summertime, especially if factors like new locations, having to make new friends, and changing schedule outlines (blocks to periods or vice versa) are involved in this transition. As our local schools have started back in session this week, we spent some time considering ways we can offer support and advice on making these new school year fears a little less scary for all involved. #1: Drive to the school. Get familiar with the drop-off line, the bus lot, entrances and exits, and if there are outdoor facilities like a garden, a football field, or stadium, take a walk around the perimeter to get a feel for the layout. #2: Take a walk. Most schools have an orientation night for their upcoming students and this is the best time to get familiar with your schedule, if you are given it early! Especially if you're given a time limit on how long you have to get from class to class, a walk (or two) along your daily routine will make the transition from class to class far more confident when it comes to executing the bell schedule. #3: Practice your morning routine. This includes wake up times, breakfast options, allotting time for activities of daily living, and (only if you have the capability) the drive to school. Expect traffic to increase at these times as school traffic adds to already standing work traffic for morning commutes. Being aware of the traffic patterns in your area will help avoid being late to class or sitting in the car line as the first bell rings. #4: Lay out your clothes the night before. Be aware of your dress code, but have FUN with your clothes! Your outfit should be comfortable and reflective of your personal style. By taking the time to mindfully lay out your outfit, makeup routine, and hair routine the night before, you will be giving yourself extra time in the morning to navigate your schedule and make adjustments as needed. #5: Meal planning is a MUST! Pulling your lunch together the night before will make the process of getting out the door smoother than if you threw things in your lunchbox as you're getting your shoes on. By designating time to pull together your meal, it will allow you to have a little bit of everything in your lunchbox to satisfy your nutritional needs and not be worried what your body needs for energy and health throughout the day. #6: A healthy snack is the key. Discuss the possibility of pre-planning a post school snack. Though it is easy to come in the door and pull a bag of chips off the shelf, fortifying the body with a small healthy snack before dinner, after basketball practice, or while doing homework is an incentive to a busy day at school. A few of our favorites are: - Fruit Pizza - Ants on a log - Veggie train
#7: Create a visual schedule for your nighttime routine. Establishing the expectation for a bedtime routine will make the transition from a busy daytime to a relaxing nighttime. Be sure to factor in things like reading a book before bed, taking a bath, picking out pajamas, or doing a small puzzle to help focus the mind and regulate the body.
Be sure to remember that changing schedules is a process, but it is possible to make the transition fun and smooth with the right planning. Give your children options to choose how they want to abide by their schedule by familiarizing themselves with what the hands on the clock mean or by creating a checklist for how the day should go. Stimulating little minds in the right way provides a safe place for them to expect changes, different routines, and familiarize themselves with their emotions regarding wanting to do something vs not wanting to do something. We want to wish you a happy, safe, and healthy school year!