As I write this week’s article on Successful School transitions, I have the lyrics to The Byrds “Turn! Turn! Turn!” in my head:
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together
As our households shift from the season of summer to the season of school, our habits and routines begin to shift. As you think about what those are for your family, here are some to consider:
Summer bedtimes have a tendency to creep a little bit later or be all over the map. Between staying light later and fun filled summer days, a structured bedtime may go by the wayside for some families. If summer bedtime in your home looks more like you’re observing Pacific Standard time when you actually live in Eastern Standard time, you need to gradually get bedtime back on track.
Identify what time lights out needs to be for the school year versus when it’s taking place now. Aim to move bedtime closer and closer to your goal by 15 minutes each night. Too big of a jump will just lead to an awake child being restless in bed and not likely successful in falling asleep.
And add all the elements of what the bedtime routine will look like for the school year. If it includes family time reading books, or songs and cuddles, or whatever special and unique things help slow down and signal bedtime, establish them now. Particularly if the sequence of events looks different than it did the previous school year, introducing it now will help the transition. Maybe older children will have some independent reading time before the lights go out. Maybe the addition of a baby sibling leads to a different order of things. Think about what works for your family and begin enjoying it.
And this applies for wake up, too! Start the mornings and all of the morning routine so bodies and brains are accustomed to operating at that hour of the day!
The weeks before school begin is also the time to add other elements of routine so that they are exactly that – routine – when the school year begins. Anything that is new takes some adjustment. Let’s have returning to school be the one adjustment we put all our energy into when the time comes.
Will your children be packing their own lunches (maybe with your assistance?). Start this a week or so in advance, particularly if this is a new responsibility for them. Same thing goes for getting back packs and other school items organized (the night before so as to minimize morning chaos!). Now is also the time to get any and all school supplies so you’re not frantically looking for the one right folder at every local store the night before school starts!
But don’t introduce too much…
Was the goal to have your child tie his own shoes for school this fall? But it hasn’t happened yet? It might be unrealistic and too much pressure to perform brand new behaviors at the start of the school year. In this example, stick with the Velcro shoes for school and use weekends and time at home to practice shoe tying. He can start wearing those to school when he’s ready and confident, not when the school calendar dictates.
The same idea goes for potty training or any other new behavior. The bigger the milestone and the smaller the child, the better to have it fully mastered and go at your family’s own pace, and not let the school calendar dictate it.
Establishing these habits now will allow you to work out any glitches and have everyone be pros by the time school starts, making it smoother for everyone! Let’s purposefully turn our behaviors and habits to support the next season for our families and children.
I'm a mom of four children, a wife, and a Licensed Professional Counselor. My parenting life helps me be a better counselor, and my professional experience helps me be a better mom. Both allow me to be creative, to learn and grow, to make mistakes, and to rarely sleep. I love the beach and gardening, reading if I can stay awake, running (which these days is after my kids and not much else), and using humor through it all!
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