By Kimberly Boyd
With back to school a few weeks away, parents are trying to get their kids ready and back into the routine and away from late summer nights and sleeping in. As a parent of four kids, I reached out to local parents and asked what worked best for them to make the transition of summer to school days the most successful for them. Each parent had great ideas that could make your school year much smoother. We also asked teachers what they suggested to help with the transition. There are three things that all parents and teachers stressed as concern and importance to making the household run smoother during school time. These things were: routines with a busy schedule, organizational skills with homework, and early morning wake ups.
Starting back to school can bring on anxiety and stress for those with busy schedules trying to juggle after school activities, homework, and trying to find a routine in the mix of the two. Then, somewhere in the mix of it all, kids are adjusting from staying up late playing Fortnite, vegging on Netflix and then sleeping in the next morning to now waking up at 6 A.M. to get ready for school. The transition can be very tiring and stressful on any family unit. Local parent, Rubie Frasher said their main struggle is “getting the kids up! I like that they can sleep in in the summer.” If you have ever been a parent, then you have had at least one night when your child has cried or thrown a fit because they were not ready for bed or said, “I’m not sleepy.” Many suggest starting two weeks before school starts to getting the kids back into routine of going to bed early and rising early. However, most suggest a simple routine.
Although students may have after school activities, every minute is crucial in making the routine for bed run effectively. Find what bedtime works for your family depending on what activities you have that evening. Then, pick three things that can be a routine to follow them to bed. An example would be as following: when it is 30 minutes before bed time, announce it is time to turn off the television. 1.) Brush teeth. 2.) Pick out clothes for the next morning. 3.) Then, read a book or take a moment to talk and pray with your child.
Find what works best for your family. If you have older children, this routine can still work. Turn off the television, follows steps 1 and 2, and then spend 15 minutes of quality talking time with your child talking about their day. Once the routine is developed, it will become less a fight and more of reality of the new routine. This time spent with your child can help calm them before bed and also create an open line of communication for the coming year as problems may arise at school.
One thing, we, as parents all dread is the daunting paperwork, homework and signing a million papers sent home the first week of school. However, that part will never change as we start back to school. The school still needs our address, emergency contacts, and our 20th signature on page 180. Unfortunately, this isn’t the school’s fault. Most of the required paperwork is government required. So, getting a handle on homework and a clean backpack can be stressful at times but it is possible to make this an easier transition. Local parent, Breanna Elmore, who has one child starting 5th grade and another beginning 2nd grade, said she worries “about making sure they get everything done and staying one step ahead of their learning especially with difficult subjects.” We reached out to retired Mansfield Spanish teacher, Becky Yates, and she suggested, “Have them to organize their notebooks and backpacks every day before they go to bed, so their papers are organized and they will know where their notes and work are. One of the biggest things that cause trouble for kids is not turning in work they did because they can’t find it. They do not need to use their backpack to just stuff all their old papers in it like a trash can. Have THEM Sort it out every day and it won’t be a problem and they will turn their work in on time.” As a parent, I know looking into a backpack every night can be time consuming, especially if you have more than one child. However, this is your communication tool with your child’s teacher. This is your way of being informed of your child’s behavior, activities, and homework and will also help with the bed time routine as mentioned above. Rachel Gayer, parent and teacher at Albert Pike in Fort Smith, suggested having “them (the child) help make the ‘routine.’ Then, take pictures of them doing that activity (they will love that part) and post it somewhere in the house. If the child can tell time, assign a time to each picture to help them stay in task.” When speaking with Hackett Elementary teacher, Wendy James, she gave us this advice for students and parents, “A piece of advice for kids returning to school is, think about what they are going to wear the night before and lay it out. With parents help for a few minutes in the evening, it definitely saves an argument or two in the morning. Also, watch the weather. Be prepared on how to dress and what they will need to do at the bus stop. One last thing, my best advice, leave your backpack in the same spot every evening so you will have it there in the morning so no one or nothing can take it as we, the teachers, have heard MANY excuses.”
Also, not having all the supplies needed for class can be stressful on your student. Mansfield Middle School teacher, Kandis Howard said, “Just making sure that they have their school supplies as the most important thing, and if they can’t get the supplies, there is always help. They need to talk to the counselors or the teachers.” Many local organizations help with this need and supplies have been donated to your school. If your family is struggling to purchase the list of supplies, please talk with their teacher, counselor or principal for further help.
Last to tackle, the early morning wake-up call for kids as they start back to school can be the most stressful event of them all. We have all had those mornings, as parents, that we just want to hit the snooze button one more time and then find ourselves surviving with a cup of coffee as our kid has a melt down because they too do not want to wake up. However, the best morning routine is found when a night time routine has been implemented. If you pick out clothes, sign papers, pack snack and lunches the night before, this can be your life saver during early morning melt downs. Making sure your child also gets enough sleep is crucial to their school performance as well and how they wake up in the morning. Hackett Elementary teacher, Melissa Gilham, said the main problem she sees with students is, “Mainly being sleepy from getting to bed too late.” This is not uncommon among students of all ages due to extracurricular activities kids have in the evenings causing the late night schedules and squeezing in dinner and homework time once the child arrives home. Students and parents are tired. According to the National Sleep Foundation, below is a chart of the following recommended amount of sleep your child should get:
It’s crucial for your student to use their first hour after school to get homework finished so they do not have late nights after their activities. Most students do not want to do homework as soon as they have been dismissed from school. The last thing they want to do is more work, however, using this time will help save time once they return home late after activities. Many parents suggested doing homework accompanied with a snack as soon as your child gets home from school because if they do not do it then, then their child is too tired after evening activities to tackle the task.
We suggest waking up your child up with all smiles. Although this is hard, when we, ourselves, could use a couple more hours of sleep, waking up your child with a happy and positive attitude sets the mood for their morning as well. When we are rushed and stressed, they are rushed and stressed as well. Maybe you have a song or funny dance that might help get them happy and moving and grooving in the morning, and once again, routine is the key. Just remember, you are their inspiration and example first thing in the morning.
You are raising a child to change the world, create inventions, and save lives. While we realize not all the suggestions mentioned above will work for every family and not all families have the same schedule, we suggest each family find what works best for their kids and stick with that routine. Routine is the key to a successful school year for students as much as a crock pot is for a busy mom can be a lifesaver on busy evenings. As school approaches on Monday, we pray blessings on your family and that each child has a successful year as they transition from summer nights to early school mornings.