If your kids are like mine, they're not exactly jumping for joy at the thought of school starting. My 7-year-old actually came to me crying around 1 a.m. last week because August had started and that meant it was almost time for school to start.
So how do you get your kids back in school mode? Read on for some tips.
1. Back-to-school rituals. When they're little, children look forward to family rituals. When they grow up, these become cherished memories, according to renowned educational psychologist Dr. Becky Bailey, author of "I Love you Rituals." Why not make back to school one of those times? Whether it's back-to-school supply shopping (or hunting for the best deal, in my case) or a big pancake breakfast the first morning of school, a barbecue or family movie night the Saturday night or Sunday before, make going back to school a special and momentous occasion in your house. Your kids will remember it for years to come.
2. Get excited! Kids feed off your energy. If you're jazzed about something, then they'll be jazzed about it too, whether it's Nordstrom's half-yearly sale, ducks traipsing through your yard, packages at your doorstep — you name it. If they see that you're excited and looking forward to a new beginning, they will too. I learned this lesson the hard way when I realized I was giving my daughter anxiety about flying. I was always nervous about getting to the airport on time, getting through security, the flight being delayed ... until I realized that my poor daughter was taking cues from me and getting just as stressed. When I chilled out a little, and laughed off an airplane delay as more time to explore the airport, she did too.
3. New stuff. I know it sounds wasteful, but hear me out. Kids. Love. New. Things. This doesn't mean they have to be tricked out in all the latest fashions and have brand spanking new school supplies. It can be something small, like a new supply box (even when all the supplies are from your office supply stash), or even new sneakers, if they've outgrown their old pair. For my 4-year-old, it's getting to wear her big sister's hand-me-downs for the first time. They're new to her, and she loves them!
4. Something to look forward to after school starts. Take a mini vacation with the whole family a few weeks after school starts. It can be a staycation one Sunday, or a trip to the zoo or to the movies; anything that makes them look forward to school starting so they can reach that milestone. For us, it's my in-laws coming in for the weekend in late September. They have to get back into the school routine before they can see grandma and grandpa!
5. Getting back to routine. In the summer, we tend to let loose with our schedule, but eventually, you gotta get back to routine. Rachel Benstein, a parenting expert based in New Jersey, recommends this as an important segue to the school year. "In order to ease the transition from summer to school year, it is vital to get back into your school year routine about a week or two before your actual school year begins," she explains. "That translates into earlier supper times and getting them back to a regular bedtime. Kids thrive on routine; the more structured the week is before school, the more successful of a start they’ll have to the school year."