Summer is winding down. Back to school means back to routines and homework, seeing old friends and making new ones. For any child, going back to school is an adjustment, but it can be even more difficult for a military child. He or she may be at a brand new school or a parent may have just been deployed. Many factors contribute to nervousness when approaching the school year, so here are some tips to make back to school easier on your family.
Start routines early.
Summer is a time for late nights, sleeping in and doing a lot of what your child wants. If you wait until the night before school starts to break those habits, the first few weeks of school will be rough. Two or three weeks before school starts, encourage an earlier bedtime. And, in the mornings, wake your child up earlier. When you wake your child, have him or her do everything he or she would if it was a school morning to help start the habit. Also, limit screen time and introduce more creative time. Whether it’s using a coloring book or doing pages from a workbook, get your child’s brain in school mode well beforehand to ease the transition.
Open the lines of communication with the school.
Educators in your area may not be accustomed to many military families, so explaining your child’s situation and offering military resources to further explain military life is helpful. Let teachers know of any changes that could come your way at home, like deployments or homecomings, and how these may affect your child. Also, explain any behavioral changes you’ve noticed in your child and encourage teachers to voice any changes they notice with you. Your child’s teacher spends nearly as much time with them as you do, so open the lines of communication to give your child the best chance.
Make back to school happy and exciting.
Many kids are sad when summer ends, so instead of making back to school a negative experience, make it happy and fun. Involve your child in back to school shopping by making a whole day of it. Take him or her to lunch at a favorite spot before you head to the store. Then, let your child help pick out school supplies like a new backpack or pencil case. Attend the school open house to give your child a chance to check out the school, meet his or her teacher and potentially meet some new friends. The night before school starts, let your child pick out the “first day” outfit and cook his or her favorite meal to celebrate going back to school. Involve your child in the decision making processes before school starts to get him or her excited about the first day.
Before school starts, ask your child what he or she thinks the school year is going to be like. Listen to what is communicated and encourage your child to explain the reasons why he or she feels excited or nervous. It’s helpful to know your child’s concerns going into the school year, and to offer encouragement. Also, be involved with the school as much as possible, whether that means volunteering to help with lunchtime or asking your child about their classes or extracurricular activities. Involvement will help ease your child’s transition because they can feel your support on a routine basis.
Back to school is a hectic time for any family, but it can be especially difficult for a military family. Be involved, open lines of communication with the school and excite your child for the new year.