How to Get Your Kids Ready for Back to School

As summer starts to wind to a close, parents and children everywhere know it means one thing: time to go back to school! 

For some kids, this time of year is filled with excitement and anticipation. For others, the prospect of going back to school is a little more daunting. 

No matter where your child lands, there are some things you can do to get your kids ready for back to school—emotionally, mentally, and physically! 

Here are our top tips for back to school!

How to Get Your Kids Ready for Back to School

With schools set to return to in-person learning, the excitement and the anxiety is palpable. To establish a routine and create a sense of normalcy, here are a few things you can try:

1) Establish a Morning Routine

Between finishing the 2021 school year in a virtual format and getting some much-needed R&R over the summer holiday, your morning routine is likely a little rusty. 

Try to establish a routine at least two weeks before the start of school. If that’s not possible, start as soon as you are able. But the sooner you start, the more established the routine and the benefits of it will be!

This routine should include a regular wake-up time. For younger children, wake them up at the same time each day. For older children, help them to set an alarm or establish your expectations around wake-up time. 

This routine should also include a healthy breakfast. Growing bodies and brains need proper nutrition to flourish during the day. Provide fresh fruit, like apples, bananas, and berries, with whole grains and/or protein. These foods will not only provide important nutrients, but they will keep kids feeling full right up until lunchtime.

2) Stick to a Bedtime Routine

Just as important as a morning routine is a bedtime routine!

Fun, vacations, and festivities mean bedtimes often shift over the summer. But kids need sleep if they are going to learn and engage in the classroom.

Ensure kids are going to bed at the same time every night. This will allow the body to establish a natural rhythm, helping kids fall asleep quickly and wake fully rested.

It may be challenging for teenagers and older children to set a specific ‘bedtime,’ but you can, instead, establish a pre-bed quiet time.

During this time, they can read or do some other quiet activity. What you want is a screen-free time to allow the mind to relax and prepare for rest.

You can have quiet time with younger children as well. Use this time to read to them in bed or lie with them until they nod off.

This bedtime routine may include evening baths and laying out the next day’s clothes, depending on your morning routine. Do what makes sense for your child and your household.

3) Stock Up on School Supplies

Nothing gets kids ready for back to school quite like shopping for school supplies. Markers, pencils, pens, notebooks, backpacks—you name it, kids love back-to-school shopping.

If the school has supplied you with a shopping list, print it out or write it down before heading to the store. You do not want to forget any essential items in all the excitement.

If you have not been given a list by the school, sit down with your kids and make a list of things they will need. This planning will help you stick to a budget and prevent you from throwing everything but the kitchen sink into your cart. And be sure to check online and local flyers for the best prices in your area.

Wherever you can, let your kids pick the colour and style of essential items. For notebooks, backpacks, and binders, it can be an opportunity for your child to express their unique style, helping them to feel more independent and excited for the year ahead.

4) Create a Dedicated Study Space

No matter the age of your child, they will need a quiet space to do their schoolwork.

Given virtual learning formats, you may already have a study space set up. If that’s the case, this is a perfect time to restock it!

You want a space where your kids can focus on the work at hand. First and foremost, make sure there is a comfortable chair and proper lighting. For younger children, make sure the space has anything they may need like markers, pencils, erasers, scrap paper, kid-friendly scissors, and glue sticks.

Older children may be more comfortable doing their school work in their own rooms. But this does not mean that you can’t help them make the space more comfortable and productive. Consider a corkboard or a whiteboard that they can use to map their work or post important reminders and information.

If the school has supplied you with a shopping list, print it out or write it down before heading to the store. You do not want to forget any essential items in all the excitement.

If you have not been given a list by the school, sit down with your kids and make a list of things they will need. This planning will help you stick to a budget and prevent you from throwing everything but the kitchen sink into your cart. And be sure to check online and local flyers for the best prices in your area.

Wherever you can, let your kids pick the colour and style of essential items. For notebooks, backpacks, and binders, it can be an opportunity for your child to express their unique style, helping them to feel more independent and excited for the year ahead.

5) Have a Dental Cleaning or Check-Up

A new school year is a perfect time to book a dental check-up. It doesn’t take long for homework, sports, and other extracurricular activities to take up all your family’s spare time.

Calling and booking teeth cleaning for the start of the school year will ensure that this important task doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Furthermore, when you attach an important event to your check-up, like the start of school, you can more easily remember when it occurred last, allowing you to book your next appointment or track your previous appointments easily.

And booking a cleaning or check-up before the start of school will help your kid get started on the right foot. Sometimes summer fun can mean forgetting to brush or floss. A back-to-school check-up will mean your dentist can catch any problems before they become a real nuisance.

6) Plan the First Day of School Outfit

Whether you are purchasing something new or putting together older pieces in new ways, planning a first-day outfit is a great way to get kids ready for back to school!

Clothing is one way that kids can express their personalities. Support them in their choices and help them to put their best foot forward.

Try to decide on the outfit early. That way, you can lay it out or hang it in a special part of the closet so it becomes something for them to look forward to every day!

This year, when choosing an outfit, don’t forget to plan a mask selection! Again, this is another great opportunity for kids to express themselves!

While Alberta does not currently have a mask mandate in schools, masks are required on school buses, and they may be required in the classroom based on local considerations. Be prepared and keep things positive by including a mask when planning an outfit!

7) Talk to Your Kids About COVID-related Expectations

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on kids. And whether they are starting school for the first time or finally returning to in-person learning, anxiety may be high.

One of the most important things you can do to get your kids ready for back to school is to simply talk to them. Find out where their concerns lie and talk it through with them.

For children concerned about COVID-19, remember that they will pick up on your energy and cues. Do your best to remain calm and reassuring, avoid language of blame, provide age-appropriate information, go over proper mask use/handwashing, and simply make yourself available to talk about it.

If you have just moved to a new school or your kid is attending kindergarten or high school for the first time, provide them with extra support. It may help, where COVID restrictions allow, to do a dry run of the first day. Pay a visit to the school or walk/drive the route to know what to expect on that first day.

Taking this step can establish you as a safe landing place for your child. Should they run into problems, socially or otherwise, they will know that they can come to you.

Let your child know that first-day jitters and nerves are completely normal. Allow them to express their fears and share with them some of the fears you had when you had to return to school.

If your child has a particular concern, like who to sit with at lunch or on the bus, help them work out a strategy. By having a plan, you will demystify the experience and empower them to be brave and face their fears head-on.

Work with them on deep breathing so that should something feel too much to handle, they have a strategy in place that can help to calm their nerves and clear their head.

Send Kids Back to School with Confidence

With the tips laid out above, you can get your kids ready for back to school with relative ease.

While it may seem daunting after the chaos of the pandemic, creating good habits and open channels of communication will lay a solid foundation for a successful school year.

By setting a routine, stocking up on supplies, protecting oral health, and talking through any concerns, your kids will be ready to take on whatever the academic year throws at them!

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