Last Modified: November 25, 2023 | Published: August 13, 2023
School will be back in session soon. Here are your top 10 ways to help your child be ready for the upcoming school year.
1. Find out when your child’s school day will start and decide when you will do your drop-off.
Depending on your child’s school, the start of the school day can change from year to year. It can help to figure out the earliest and latest possible time for drop off.
When you drop your child off for school, include several extra minutes. Parking and walking up to the door can take 10-20 minutes. Keep in mind that other parents will be dropping their children off at school, and school buses will be entering as well. In the morning, there is often increased traffic and reduced speed limits. If you are new to this school, ask a neighbor or friend questions about drop-off, such as where they like to park and how long it takes to get to the door in the morning.
2. Figure out new bedtimes and wake-up times.
You want to give your child enough time to prepare in the morning. We recommend that most families allow at least an hour to an hour and 15 minutes to get ready in the morning. Knowing this, it is now time to figure out when your child needs to wake up in the morning. It is recommended that children get between 9-12 hours of sleep each night. Knowing your child and their sleep needs will help you sort out a good bedtime and wake-up time. The most important thing is to be consistent. Try to have a consistent sleep schedule. Do not vary bedtime or wake time by more than a half hour.
3. Start having your child go to bed and wake up 15 minutes earlier each day.
Now that you know when your child’s school day will start and how much time you need to get to school, it is a good idea to start having your child wake up a bit earlier each day. It can help to have your child wake up 15 minutes earlier each day until you are at your official school wake-up time. Try to have your child on the new sleep schedule a week before school starts.
4. Practice the evening routine before school starts.
It can help to have a routine that your child follows every night before bed, making your mornings more successful. For most kids, it’s a good idea to create a chart your child can check off each night.
Some activities to include in your evening routine that make it easier for you and your child in the morning include:
- Socks and shoes your child is wearing to school by the door
- Coat and outdoor essentials (depending on weather) ready by the door
- Clothes for the next day are out and ready
- Lunch is packed and in the fridge, ready to grab in the morning
- If your child eats lunch at school, check their lunch money balance and add money if needed
- Backpack packed and by the door
- Student ID lanyards by the door or in the backpack
5. Practice the school morning routine before school starts.
This routine may include:
- Brushing teeth, combing hair, getting dressed
- Eating breakfast
- Grabbing lunch from fridge
- Putting on socks and shoes
6. Do a trial run of the evening routine and morning routine.
This is a tried and true tip from one of our psychologists here at Cadey. She described how she and her kids practice the routine before school starts. They pick a day to practice the routine from start to finish. If her kids are ready to go on time with their new routine, they go somewhere fun to celebrate.
7. Create a space for your child to do their homework.
Create a space within your home where your child can work on their homework without distractions. Find a quiet, distraction-free zone away from electronics. Share with your child how the after-school routine will go when arriving home. It can help to draw this out and place it in their room.
This setup will differ for families depending on whether your child is coming home from school or daycare. Share what the expectations will be for your child. Will you eat dinner, and then after dinner, phones and electronics are put away for an hour while everyone does their schoolwork? Spend some time thinking about what will be best for your children. Then, share and implement this new expectation.
8. If you have young children, practice opening and closing lunch containers.
Often when our kids are in daycare and preschool, adults will help your child open and close lunch containers. If your child is in full-day kindergarten or first grade, there is often less time for your child to eat lunch. Many times, there are fewer adults around to help your child open and close containers.
It can be beneficial to check with your child to see what containers are easy for them to open. You may also consider packing easy-to-open string cheese or packing apple slices instead of an apple.
Keep in mind that with limited time to eat, you might need to pack a bit light. For example, one of our psychologists used to do this strategy with fruit. Her son admitted he would only eat one strawberry at lunch. She started packing just one strawberry. Of course, there were other items in his lunch, but there was no point in packing a bunch of fruit that would wind up in the trash. Be realistic. If your kiddo has 20 minutes to eat, what will they get through in that time? Don’t pack too much.
9. Practice leaving special stuffed animals and treasures at home.
It is common for children to have a special stuffed animal or blanket they bring with them to various places. Maybe your child had a favorite stuffed animal that lived in their cubby at daycare the entire day.
Often, schools ask kids to leave all special items and toys at home. This request includes not having these special items in their backpacks. Work with your child to find a special place for these items while your child is away at school.
Pro tip: if your child needs a comfort item, try a small rock they can put in their pocket.
10. Most importantly, remember to chill out.
As a family, back-to-school is stressful for everyone. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle around this time of year. Try not to play into that any more than necessary. Yes, it’s nice to ‘start strong’ for the school year, but sometimes that’s not possible. Your child may be nervous. You may be late getting out the door. Your child may get a dreaded ‘tardy’ slip. Sure, we want it to go smoothly, but it won’t always happen that way. Your child can still have a successful school year.
Take time at night to chill out and relax. Is it still nice weather out where you live? Great! Get some playtime in after the school day. Don’t forget that although the school year is different than summer, some things are still the same. You are still a family who enjoys spending time together, no matter the time of year.
You can learn more about how to help your child in the CadeyLite app.