September 12, 2014
Still Struggling with Back-to-School Routines? It’s Not Too Late to Make It Easier.
For many families, there’s a long list of to-dos for the fall and back-to-school season; from adjusting bed times to mastering the art of lunch packing, new routines are created and introduced. Despite good intentions, families can still struggle with these new transitions weeks after the start of school.
According to Christina Fecio, director of education and training at Doodle Bugs! Children’s Centers, it’s not too late to help make the new routines and schedules easier for young children.
“Transitions to back to school or into new routines can be stressful and takes time to adjust even after they go into effect. It’s perfectly normal for adjustment to take weeks. The best advice for families is to try these tips and stay patient and positive,” Fecio said.
- Toddlers + : Reading books about going to school and saying goodbye to parents, such as Audrey Penn’s The Kissing Hand or David Shannon’s David Goes to School can help children understand these actions and identify with them in a positive way. If your child seems anxious or nervous about school, don’t read these books at bedtime. Read after dinner or at an earlier time of day, when you have time to talk through any questions or insecurities.
- Toddlers +: Comfort items, such as blankets, loveys, stuffed animals are all developmentally appropriate and help children feel secure and develop confidence. There is no need to force young children to give these items up, even after weeks of a new routine. Their need for the comfort items often remain all year long. When a child is ready to put them aside, they will. Taking them away can often cause trauma and disruption.
- Preschool/PreK: Be realistic with bed time. Continue to adjust bedtime slightly, with some “quiet time” (stories and snuggles, ideally not screens because they can be stimulating) in advance of lights out. It might take a few weeks to move back to your preferred school schedule, but it will get there eventually.
- All Ages: Bring a family photo to school. Infant and toddler caregivers will display them at baby’s eyelevel or use them to create a book, while preschool and pre-K teachers will also use them to create matching games and add a familiar element to literacy centers.
- All Ages: Say goodbye, ideally with a smile on your face. As tempting as it might be to sneak out of the classroom while your child is distracted, you’re teaching invaluable lessons about reliability, trust, and routines when you say, “I’m leaving now and will see you after work.” Your child learns that you’re true to your word and that you always come back.
- All Ages: Be gentle with yourself. If cereal and fruit for dinner means a calmer, less frazzled parent and a more relaxed evening routine, go with it!