Make back-to-school a success
Did your kids enjoy their summer break? That’s great! Soon, however, they’ll be back to school. Here are a few tips for a smooth and serene back-to-school period.
Ease back into your routine
Slowly getting back into your evening routine is a good start. This will help make for a smooth transition to school day early bedtimes and mornings. Otherwise, waking up that first week can come as quite a shock. What you want is for your kids to be up on time, well rested and ready to go.
Getting regular and enough sleep is good for young people’s physical and mental health. The beginning of the school year is a good time to create or get back into good habits.
In Canada, the official recommendations1 for hours of sleep are as follows:
- Nine to eleven hours for kids ages 5-13
- Eight to ten hours for teens ages 14-17
Keep some of the summer fun alive
Without letting it take away from your routine, continuing some of your summer habits, like going to the park or playing a new game, can help your kids see that they can still do activities that they like—and that going back to school doesn’t have to be a hard reset erasing all the fun!
Focus on the positive
If your kids feel unmotivated or even nervous, remind them of the things they like about school, like being with friends, seeing their gym teacher, playing games they enjoy, etc. And as in any other situation, be a good listener. Get them to tell you what’s worrying them, avoid trivializing their concerns and try to reassure them.
Get your kids involved
Getting new clothes and school supplies in a limited time can sometimes feel like an Olympic sprint. Start early and involve your kids in certain steps. For example, they can choose some of their own school supplies, sharpen their own pencils or label their own notebooks.
You can also have them circle the first day of school on the family calendar. It’s an easy way to help them get mentally prepared.
Teachers are your best allies
Work as a team with your kids’ teachers. Don’t hesitate to tell them about things that don’t work well at home or elsewhere. Participate in parent-teacher meetings with an open mind. Teamwork and trust between parents and the school greatly contribute to students’ wellbeing.
Extracurricular activities, an ace up your sleeve
In addition to giving you a little more time for your other responsibilities, extracurricular activities can help your kids make new friends, develop a sense of belonging or discover positive new role models. According to Anne-Sophie Denault, associate professor in psychoeducation at Université Laval’s faculty of education, they can also help young people “improve their ability to work as part of a team, learn to manage their emotions and demonstrate their creativity.”
What about lunches?
“Dad, where’s my sandwich? Mom, I don’t have utensils!” Ever heard those before? Although there’s always a bit of improvisation involved in preparing your kids’ lunches, making a weekly menu, buying in larger quantities and dividing up portions for several days with your kids will definitely save you time and money.
And get your kids involved in making their lunches. It will make them proud and teach them some independence. Be sure to keep in mind common food allergies, or those specific to your kids’ groups, if applicable.
Also, be kind to the planet and opt for reusable containers. A thermos can be used to pack leftovers for lunch, which also reduces food waste. You should always have in mind what’s available in your fridge or pantry for lunch the next day, or even the next few days.
Your kids are now ready to get off on the right foot. And now you’ll be ready to support them in their learning, their successes and their challenges, which they need no matter how old they are. It’s also a good idea give them an additional leg up with a registered education savings plan (RESP). This will allow you to continue helping them achieve their dreams even when, in the not-so-distant future, they’re ready to leave the nest and fly on their own.