For most kids around the nation school is back in session. That means no more sleeping until noon every day, hanging at the pool with friends for hours during the week, or staying up late to finish those Redbox movies. Instead of following the musical chimes of the ice cream truck, they move to the sounds of class bells. Bikes and skateboards as daily transportation are now replaced by school buses and carpools.
As parents, it is our job to ease our kids back into the swing of things to make the transition from carefree kid to focused student easier. A smooth transition makes getting back into school after a two-month or more break feel less like the shock of diving into an icy lake and more like slowly inching into a heated pool until your body gets used to the temperature.
The first thing kids need to get used to as the new school year approaches is going to bed earlier. School age kids need at least 8-10 hours of sleep, maybe more if they’re very young. If your kids have a very late bedtime during the summer or no bedtime at all, start weaning them by moving the time up 30 minutes or so every few days a couple of weeks before school starts. Their bodies will adjust to the earlier time and be ready for it by the time school starts. This also goes for waking up earlier if your kids usually sleep way past the time they would need to be up for school.
Most kids see summer vacation as a time to abandon all books, math problems, and science experiments. In reality, they still need some kind of educational activities to keep their minds alert, remind them of what they’ve learned, and prepare them for the new lessons they’ll have coming up. Keep your kids reading throughout the summer and have them discuss with you what they are reading. Take them to a math and science or history museum. Rent a few educational videos for movie night. Plan educational summer trips. If they need it, enroll them in programs like Mathnasium, Kumon or even educational summer camps.
These are just a few things we try to do with our son and so far they have proven to be very effective. He was excited about going back to school this week and very confident in his abilities to succeed on the higher level required from his new high school.
Best wishes to all the students, educators, administration, and parents for the 2012-2013 school year!