August signals that it’s time to head back to school. While our kids here in Seattle don’t start until August 31st, there are many districts all across the country with sessions already beginning. It’s a busy time as families try to squeeze in one last vacation before the school scheduled takes over. But it’s also a time of transitioning from the more relaxed and less schedule-packed summer to a fall filled with commitments.
Kids.gov provided some tips on how to make the transition smoother for both kids and parents and I’ve combined them with my own tips as a mom who’s survived elementary through college with kids, plus as a former head school secretary of an elementary school. Here’s hoping they make your family’s back-to-school time easier.
10 Back to School Transition Tips for Parents:
- Schedule time with teachers – Send a note with your child on her first day introducing yourself and wishing them a great first day. Taking five minutes out to do this can go a long way in helping you keep an open dialog with school staff which can help your child thrive.
- Get those required shots! If you state requires that your child be immunized, do it now. Many schools will not allow a child to attend until she has a record of immunization. If you’re not sure, find out now if your child needs any school-required vaccines.
- Ease into the school routine. You may have let your child’s sleeping habits slide during the summer, but it’s time to get her back on track. A good night sleep is essential to a child being successful in school. Preschoolers need a minimum of 11 hours of sleep a night, school-age children need at least 10 hours, and teens need at least 9 hours.
- Pack a healthy and safe lunch. Pack those lunchboxes with a balanced meal and make sure hot foods are kept hot and cold foods stay cold. If you think you may be a low-income family, check to see if you for free and reduced priced school meals.
- Shop smart. If you live in one of the states that have a sales tax holiday in August, contact your school for a supplies list, and shop then. If not, keep your supply list on hand and watch for sales.
- Talk to your kids about online safety. Most schools cover online safety with kids before they allow them to sign on, but it’s a really good idea for parents to reinforce those ideas at home. Teach your children about online safety including identity theft, bullying or inappropriate behavior, and what to do if they see it happening.
- Plan and practice how to get to school. Plan for emergencies. If your child rides the bus, have a backup plan in case you’re not there in time to meet him. What should he do or where should he go if you’re not there. Also, talk about what to do if he misses the bus. Some kids are so afraid of getting in trouble when they miss the bus that they will walk home instead. That nearly always leads to a panicked phone call when the child hasn’t arrived home on time. Also teach your kids to be safe whether traveling to and from school by car, bus, bicycle or walking – watch for traffic, walk with a friend, and what his plan is if he gets lost or is approached by a stranger.
- Teach time management. Start limiting screen time now. Homework, sports, and clubs will be filling those hours soon. Have the child do a minimum of one hour of learning enrichment a day (reading, writing, creating) and a minimum of one hour of physical fitness – running, swimming, playing,etc.
- Make sure kids are insured. Knowing your child’s healthcare is covered can be comforting for you both. Check to see if your child qualifies for free or low-cost insurance through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) if she’s currently not covered by insurance.
- Listen to your kids.While many children are excited about going back to school, it can create anxiety in others. Help your child by listening to his fears and allowing him a safe place to talk about them. Talk to kids about bullying and what to do if they encounter it.
Check Kids.gov throughout the year for free educational and timely information for teachers, parents, and kids.