The summer has been amazing for my kids. It’s been a nice combination of relaxation, play, exploration, and structure-all the while, providing ample opportunities for mommy-child bonding time.
The transition to back-to-school has been, over the past week or so, introduced subtely through play, reading books, doing some school work, and having some conversations about new adventures that come with their new school year.
Here are some simple ideas that we have implemented to help ease the back-to-school-transition:
1. Allow for the Expression of Feelings Through Play-Determine the Level of Scaffold Needed. My kids have been playing school (going on ‘field trips’, taking turns being the teacher, etc.) more frequently. I have engaged them in creative writing projects based on vacations and fun summer activities; for example, they built a model of Ben&Jerry’s Ice-cream Center out of a combination of magnaformers and magnatiles (pretty cool!), after writing/drawing about their experience on a recent vacation there. As it was a child-directed activity, they were notably more motivated, and the quality, quantity, happiness, attention, and level of engagement in the process and subsequent end-product was great!
2. Validate their Feelings. When my eldest mentioned, during a conversation about 3rd grade, that she doesn’t want so much homework, I made sure to validate her feelings (I understand that you are frustrated/nervous that you will have more homework…), and followed that statement with a reassurance that I know that she has many tools in her toolbox to get through what she is provided with; and that if something feels tough, she would do what she has done in the past-mark the question, and follow up with the teacher the next day. This provided her with concrete examples in her ability to persevere and get through something that felt difficult, while cementing the skill of self-advocacy and confidence-and less on the idea of learned helplessness.
3. Hit the Books. Having my kids review academic skills for a bit each day not only helped refresh learned skills in their minds, but also allows for them to get mentally ready for the transition back to school.
4. Make a Schedule, and Do a Practice Run. While your kids are home, why don’t you try to figure out a schedule that works for all of you, in terms of home work, dinner, baths, etc. ? Write it down, and try it out as a test run while your kids are home! If your kids are visual learners, you may want to create a simple picture schedule and have them check off items once completed (simply put the sheet of paper in a plastic page protector to reuse with dry erase markers). If it works, consistently reinforce that this is the schedule that you will be using once school starts.
Wishing you all a wonderful rest of the summer, and a fantastic start of the school year!