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Parting with summer is such sweet sorrow

There is something that’s SO magical about the summer: the days are longer, the evenings are warmer. Without the school bell we’re all moving at a slower (later) pace. There’s nothing more relaxing than an evening stroll around the neighborhood, with the occasional sighting of the ice cream truck to complete the idyllic scene.

There is also something SO crazy about summer! Trips, family reunions, summer camps, extra curricular activities, and are people still having birthday parties??? In an effort to create memories, we overload ourselves with trips that are wayyy too long; too many camps, too many activities, and oh shoot, we gotta do the laundry again since we went swimming yesterday.

So yeah, it’s wonderful, it’s chaotic, it’s all of the above.

I hope your summer has been as wonderful as ours, but now it’s time to (gasp!) think about going back to school (woohoo!)

Let’s face it, transitions are hard on everyone. I’m certainly not looking forward to getting up at 6:00 am every weekday; but the thought of getting back on a regular routine is Muah! Chef’s Kiss.

So how, oh how, do we get everyone to get on the same train/boat/car to get back on track??? Here are some ideas to help you and your family make the transition:

  • Start a CountDown Calendar, or just use Post Its! I have one child who is OBSESSED with days and counting. With him, we asked him to DRAW a calendar for the month, and cross out each day that passes, so he knows how many days until school starts. If you don’t have a calendar, just use Post It! Write as many days as there are between now until the first day of school, and each day, ask your child to peel off a Post It.

  • Get the gear. Give those backpacks (and lunch bags) a nice bath (or buy new ones). Bet you didn’t know, but you could totally toss both into the washer and wash on the delicate cycle. Make sure to AIR DRY though. Do you need specific items of clothing for the first day of school? Get them out NOW and make sure they still fit your child

  • Buy supplies! Does your school publish a list of school supplies that’s required for the kids’ grade level? Look for an email from the school principal, or check your school district’s website for details.

  • Review & remember. I bet you’ve heard the term “summer slide".” It refers to the learning loss for many students during the summer months. Some ideas to get your kiddos back on track: READ! Stop by the local library and find age-appropriate books for them to devour. REVIEW grade-level math. I found this website that has all sorts of activities based on grade level. If reviewing the Next Generation Science Standards is as boring for you as it was for me, make science part of your daily life! Ask your child: why are the flowers blooming? How did the tree get so tall? How much did you grow this summer (measurements)? What makes the french fry taste so good? Why do we need sleep (they never need sleep)?

  • Have a chat. Almost no child I know is excited about going back to school - the morning rush, the homework, sitting still. How to defeat the dread? Talk about the “good” things about school. What are some of the things your child may be excited about? Seeing their friends again? Playing on the play structure? Starting a game of Four Square? Also talk about things that they’re NOT excited about (getting up early) and see if there are ways you can help support them to make the mornings easier. If your child insists on picking out her own outfit each day - maybe you could do that together the night before instead of in the morning? If your child hates the school lunch - maybe you and her can figure out a menu of her favorite things and pack the lunch together? Maybe there’s someone she dreads seeing at school - talk through what it means to have to deal with people you don’t like (adults have to do this too!) and what are some strategies to help her cope.

  • Be there or be square. If you can make it work, I highly recommend attending the “classroom reveal” party IN PERSON. It’s a great opportunity for your child to meet his teacher, his classmates, and see the classroom before school starts. For me, I’ve found it’s super helpful to introduce my child to the teacher and make sure they know each other. Then ensure your child that if he is experiencing difficulty, he can ask the teacher for help.

For the parents, some best practices:

  • Practice! Try the morning routine at least a couple of times before the first day to see if there are any kinks in the system, and to get everyone on an earlier schedule. Who packs lunches? Who gets the clothes out? These are good things to know before the alarm goes off

  • Take the day off, or work a half day. Most first days are half days anyway, so you might as well take the afternoon off and use it as an opportunity to connect. What worked well? What didn’t? What are some ways you can both make things easier?

  • Simplify your morning routine. If you currently enjoy a leisurely breakfast, think about ways to still have that time together - maybe you could recreate that for Saturday mornings? What are some "grab and go" breakfast items that your kids might enjoy? (hint: there are about a million of them on the internet)

  • Do you like to do those “First Day of School” photos?? Here’s a tip: Take those photos BEFORE the first day! This way, you won’t be in a rush (and yelling at your kids to smile), and you can take as many photos as it takes to get the perfect one. 😀

Finally, change is hard. Even if the first day/week didn’t go as you planned, you and your family will find your new morning rhythm soon enough. Give yourself grace, take deep breaths, and remember that you’re in this together! Oh, and maybe celebrate the first week of school with, what else, ice cream!!

I wish your family a very happy (no yelling) first day of school.

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