After a year of attending school on Zoom, many parents feel relieved as the kids head back into the classroom this fall.
Back-to-school can still be a stressful time for everyone involved! Grab your little learners and take a few deep breaths. You’ve got this! Let us help you ease back into back-to-school learning with tips & tricks that will make the process a little less stressful and a little more fun for every age group.
Toddlers: Transitioning our Tiny Learners with Ease
Communicate & Assimilate
To prepare your toddler for in-person learning and to help get them excited, open the conversation! Talk about heading back into the classroom as a positive thing. Try and bring classroom talk into a daily chat to keep an open dialogue with your little one. Emphasize how much fun they will have and how many friends they will make. This will be such an exciting year! Ask them how they feel about heading back to school. Are they nervous? Are they going to miss you? Listen to them and validate their feelings. Remind them it is okay to feel whatever they may be feeling about heading back to school. Then, help ease your child’s fears accordingly.
A terrific way to prepare our toddlers to get back into the classroom is by setting up a play date to ease them from separation from their grown-ups. Bonus points if the playdate happens to be with a friend that will be in class. According to John Hopkins Medicine, research shows that the presence of a familiar peer during school transitions can improve children’s academic and emotional adjustment. Unable to find a friend who might be in class? Spend a day at the park and encourage them to talk to some fresh faces to ease them into socializing with new peers. Try some fun school activities at home and emphasize that these are the types of things they will be doing at school. Keeping honest and open communication with your toddler will help make the transition into the classroom easier for them and you.
Toddler Morning Checklist (made FUN)
A morning checklist is a beautiful way to get you and your little ones organized and back into a routine. If your toddler was at home last year, adjusting correctly will take some organization on both ends. A checklist can be just as fun as it is beneficial. It will help your toddler feel accomplished as they physically check tasks off the list. Make sure to include a couple of tasks that are fun and help with stress. Try and get into a routine of using your morning checklist with your toddler before school starts. Here are some ideas of what to put on your morning checklist:
- Wake up and STRECH: grow like a tree! Try and reach the sky with your arms ✓
- Take 5 deep breaths ✓
- Brush your teeth ✓
- Make breakfast with Mom/Dad ✓
- While eating: Everyone name 3 things that make us happy! ✓
- Clean up time! ✓
- Pack lunch into backpack ✓
- Pack school supplies into backpack ✓
- Tie shoes ✓
- Give Mom/Dad a hug ✓
- Say out loud: I am going to have a great day at school! ✓
Elementary: Making Back to Class a Blast!
Back to School Bucket List
Putting together a bucket list for the upcoming school year is a fantastic way to get your child excited about going back to class. Having a list of goals they can look forward to achieving will motivate them to get back to school and have a successful year. Some items on the back-to-school bucket list should be fun, while others can be for educational growth. Be sure to include some things on the bucket list to cross off the first week of school. This will inspire them to work hard to complete the rest of the items on the list!
Examples of back-to-school bucket list items:
- Say hello to 3 new people in my class
- Make my own lunch
- Hold open the door for someone
- Get an A on a test
- Give someone a compliment
- Raise my hand to answer a question
- Sit by someone new at lunch
- Bring my teacher a special treat
- Leave a kind note on someone’s desk or in their locker
- Pick out a fantastic new mask
- Write down my morning routine for school days
- Try a new cereal
- Go on an after-school walk
- Draw someone a picture
- Read an entire chapter book
Leveling up Lunch
Lunch may look different now that the kids will be eating in the cafeteria again. Mastering lunchtime will help you and the kids ease into the school year. Meal planning is the best way to take the stress off your plate when packing the kids’ lunch. Plan their lunches at the beginning of the week so you know exactly what you need. Bring them in on lunchtime planning so they can get excited about what’s to come for lunch this week! Remember, leftovers from dinner are the most effortless lunches. Save yourself a lot of time and purchase a thermos this year. Being able to pack warm lunches opens a lot of opportunities and avoids school lunch fatigue. Check out our 31 days of school lunches, so your lunchtime meals are set for the first month of school. Take your child with you to the store to pick out their own cool and fun lunchbox. Buy stickers so they can decorate the inside and make it fun! Print out our free lunchbox notes to pack with the little ones and put a smile on their face in the middle of the school day. Lunchtime is a crucial time during back-to-school season so try not to neglect it!
Teens: Tackling Back-to-School with Teenagers
Having your teens create a vision board for the school year is an effective way to visualize achieving their goals. Setting goals for the school year and then creating those goals into something they can physically see every day will not only help motivate your teen, but it will increase their likelihood of a successful school year. Participate in this activity with your teen to spend quality time together and help motivate one another. Start by getting together with your teen and writing your top ten goals for the school year.
Here’s an example of 10 school year goals for your teen:
- Log 10 hours of Volunteer Work
- Straight A’s
- Read one non-assigned book each month
- Save $___ in the bank
- Learn to cook a new breakfast recipe
- Join a school club
- Join an after-school sport
- Achieve a high attendance rate
- Ask one question each day
- Shadow someone at work
Once you have created the goals, turn them into pictures on a poster board! Draw the type of volunteer work that will be logged. Print pictures of the 12 non-assigned books you will read. Glue a picture of the new recipe you will learn to cook. Placing these goals on a board where your teen can visually see will increase their chances of achieving their school-year goals. Make sure to hang your vision boards somewhere they will see them every day!
Having a tough time getting your teens excited about heading back to school? Amp them up with some cool new accessories for the school year! Bring them to the store with you and let them pick out a new backpack to jump-start the year. Grab a new water bottle with a design they love that they can bring to school with them every day. Get fun and creative masks to make mask-wearing a little more enjoyable. Talk to your teen and find out what types of accessories will get them excited about the school year. Is there a new pair of shoes they have been wanting? How about a brand-new first day of school outfit? Find something that will insight joy in your teen and motivate them to look forward to the school year.
A Back-to-School Essential for Every Age Group: Quality Time
Quality family time is an essential part of the school year for every family member, regardless of their age. Be mindful that you are keeping an open dialogue about school and how it may be affecting your children. Ask how they are feeling about in-person learning and making the transition. Are they stressed? Are they happy? Validate their feelings and listen with open, non-judgmental ears. Keeping open communication throughout the school year will help relieve anxiety and stress for the entire family.
Make a conscious effort to gather around the dinner table this year to spend quality time together. Dedicate the dinner table as a “no phone zone” where you can spend an hour each day connecting with each other. Family meals strengthen family bonds. According to the FMI Foundation, 71% of teenagers consider catching up and spending time with family the best part of family dinners. In addition, gathering around the table increases teens’ self-esteem, creating a stronger sense of stability and making them less likely to engage in risky behavior.
The benefits of dedicating mealtime to each other don’t stop there. Young children who regularly eat dinner around the table with family see an increase in vocabulary, better manners, and improved patience and dexterity. Studies also show that kids of all ages who eat meals with their families four times a week or more earn better test scores and succeed in school. Regular family dinners have also been ties to a decrease in the chances of being overweight and an increase in social skills.
Sharing quality family time doesn’t just benefit the kids; it benefits you too. Parents and caregivers who regularly gather around the dinner table have a stronger sense of family bond, are more likely to eat healthy foods, and have better household communication all-around. Setting aside an hour a day for mealtime will benefit everyone in the family! So, try your best to make it a part of your school year routine.
Don’t forget about YOU this school year! Take care of yourself and do what you can to minimize stress during this time of year. Place your Dream Dinners order to relieve yourself from the stress of weeknight dinners and dinnertime fatigue this school year.