Getting prepared for school again, or even a first time, is not all about having the right gear; it's about adjustment, schedules, apprehension and anxiety. The easiest way to deal with all this is through preparation, being ready ahead of time. This means while you will still need to spend some time in getting it all together, you can decide when and how you spend it thus adding or subtracting stress to going back to school.
Your older child can probably do a good job of picking out his own clothes but the little one does not understand what is for playtime and what is for school, especially after a summer of wearing whatever felt most comfortable. Seperate the fancy dresses and articles inappropriate for school by placing a category of clothing on each side of the closet. Let the child choose what she wants to wear the next day from the appropriate side and lay it out for her.
A week or two before school have the kids try on the clothes that saw little or no use during the summer. You may be surprised how much they have outgrown. Replace the items that no longer fit and give the unusable clothes to a charity or someone in the neighborhood you know can benefit from them.
Take last year's backpack out of storage and give it a good going over. If it is unusable, replace it. If it is intact and in decent shape, try decorating it with attachable items to give it new life. Discuss this with your son or daughter and get their input on what goes on the bag. They may even be old enough to help you decorate, giving them a sense of ownership. The knapsack will need to be cleaned out of old papers and possibly aired out, so don't wait until last minute for this task.
After a summer of late nights and later mornings, scheduling a routine is a great way to de-stress going back to school with its specific demands on time. Do not wait until the last moment to implement this; it needs at least a week to get used to. A schedule is not just for going to bed and waking up, it includes when homework gets done, when showers are taken, and by what time to have things ready for the next morning. Children crave stability and predictability. Give it to them so they have fewer surprises to worry about.
Covering smaller aspects like where to pick up your child after school or arranging carpools or group school walks should not be left to last minute either. If you can get the school schedule a day before it starts, also post that for the kids to see. That way they know exactly what is expected of them and it helps to take responsibility off the parents' shoulders and place it onto the children's. Walk and time the route to school with your child if he is not taking a bus or being driven. Drive it so the way is familiar and to remove anxiety about where she is going especially if the school is new or the child is going away to school for the first time. Separation anxiety can be high for the parent and child so talk about it, addressing the fears and consoling. Your child doesn’t need to know that you are also anxious about him going to school. Instead, speak about the positive aspects and reveal how nervous you were on the first day but how confident you are in your child now.
If you choose to prepare in advance, you choose wisely. This can calm the nerves of an already hectic time. Allowing kids to help where they can takes pressure of you and gives them a sense of responsibility. Talk to them and get them engaged in the process. It is their adventure but it may help to know their case of nerves was shared by their parents once upon a time.
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