As families and children prepare for back to school, whether online, in person, or a combination of the two, one thing that is always encouraged around this time of year, by many educators, is a gradual return to routines.
Children thrive on structure. Children thrive on predictability. Many children are too young to make their own decisions—they fair much better when those decisions are made clearly for them.
This back to school season, predictablity has been thrown out the window. Guidelines and guidance is ever changing and many parents are feeling the stress. Each family will make a decision about learning that works best for their situation. No decision seems easy. Children feel this stress, even if unintentional on the part of parents and family members.
As we move towards the start of school, consider:
- It’s still summer! Let them sleep in, let them watch that movie or show, play the video games a little too much, be outside for hours, but… consider slowly shortening the activities that you know cannot continue this way in the Fall. In our house it looks something like, Switch for a half hour in the morning, a half hour in the afternoon and sometimes a half hour after dinner. I now set a timer. If I don’t set the timer, hours could be happily spent in front of this screen—and it’s summer, but it will be back to school, whatever that may look like, soon enough.
- Consider making a chart for younger children listing what it is they need to accomplish at various times throughout the day. For us, each child has a Morning and Afternoon Routine sheet. I found it on a blog for free and I customized it for each child's age. I laminated it and put it on a binder ring and the kids refer to it several times a day.
- Bedtime is HUGE! Pick a time and develop your bedtime routine backwards from that time. For example, if bedtime is 7:30pm, think about what needs to happen between dinner and bedtime and plan accordingly. Our bedtime looks like dinner, bath, a show on television, two books and bed. We start around 5:30 so we can get that all in by 7:30!
- Rise and Shine: It's time to think about getting yourself up earlier...even if you don't have to. Remember, all of the morning routines can be stressful for us as adults to accomplish. It can be very unsettling for children if they feel rushed or arrive late to school after it has started. This is something adults need to try to be very mindful of.