Back to school, I have been procrastinating on dealing with this topic for my blog. Some of you may be feeling the same way about getting ready for school this year. Here are 3 easy steps.
- embrace the normal preparations you have always done,
- plan for new priorities in your child’s routine to make them successful and then
- plan for the new circumstances in your child’s learning situation.
You can’t plan for all circumstances, be ready to adjust.
New look this year
Your child’s school year may have a new look this year.
- Virtual school
- In-classroom school
- Forest/ outdoor school
Some things about going back to school don’t change. Start by focusing on the things that are the same as other years to help your child enter this school year without worry. Focus on the differences later. Keeping school preparations “normal” gives your child a sense of security.
Get a few supplies
- Keep your supplies to a minimum. You want your child to have less in the classroom this year. It will be easier for them to keep track of their own things. Eight markers instead of 24 or 36, 12 pencil crayons. Wait and see what they need instead of buying everything they might need.
- Use a backpack, pencil case and lunch bag that are vinyl. It makes it easier to wipe off daily. Yes daily when they arrive back home. These are good items to have for any form of school. Your child will have a place to pack up their books at the end of the learning time. Giving an end to school and onto to play.
Set up a station at home to do homework.
- Have a caddy with supplies, scissors, eraser, stapler, pens, pencils markers crayons etc. Some children need a space in the middle of the household action. The noise actually helps them to concentrate and not daydream. The adult equivalent of working in a coffee shop. Other children will need a quiet spot away from distractions.
Plan new priorities in your child’s day to make them successful
Whether your child is in school or learning at home, routines give a sense of stability to a child. Being well-rested, energized and stress-free will make the day of learning fun, enjoyable and exciting in any situation. Don’t make it a big deal make it a new deal.
Start. with cleaning up their bedroom
- After a summer of playing, sleepovers, and unstructured play their room may be a mess. Put things back in order so your child has a space to go and relax after school. Everyone needs a place to call their own to get away on their own.
Have good bedtime routines.
- No matter what age your child, they need an expected time when they are to be in their room and be in bed. Determine routines that help your child to relax and become calm. It will be different for each child. A bath or shower, reading, essential oils, planning for the next day etc. Start the routine at the same time each night.
- Expect your child to get up at the same time each day. This will make going to bed at the expected time easier. Have them make their bed. It will give the room a feeling of calm when they need that space to go and relax. It is hard to relax in a room of chaos. Get dressed. Learning in pajamas was great fun last year. This year, get up and get ready to take on the day.
Focus on good nutrition.
- Have lots of water and breaks when needed. Keep food available for quick snacks and keep sugary snacks up high out of eyesight. Make lunches the night before or at breakfast time. Use the lunch bag even if you are at home. Having lunch ready to eat prevents grabbing a quick unhealthy option, it is ready to eat when you are and it is quick, easy and there is no mess to clean up. You can take it outside and have a picnic.
Make exercise or outdoor play essential at the end of the learning day
- Children may be required to stay in their desks more this year. At home, they may be in front of screens for longer periods. When they arrive home or finish learning, get them outside. There may be complaints at first. Make it fun, have a snack outside, read together, talk about your day, play hopscotch, tag, go for a walk, play cards or a board game. No matter what you think you need to get done, nature, fresh air and unstructured movement will help to relax your child. A relaxed child is a happy child and easier to talk with, get to cooperate and hear a laugh.
Manage your child’s new learning circumstances
Now that the basic priorities, for any type of schooling are set up, think about how to manage the new circumstances
Time to listen
Change is difficult. Slow down and listen to their fears and concerns. If you are fearful about the new circumstances they will pick up your concern. Keep yourself calm. Don’t hide your concern, talk about it in a way the is age-appropriate for your child and decide together what you can do to make things less scary. Worry doesn’t help to solve the problem, a plan does.
A day off occasionally?
Some children will be impacted more by all the new expectations. They might need a day off. Discuss how to make the new expectations easier to follow. Think of it as a mental health day.
Reward the small accomplishments
Pointing out success encourages more success. Embracing change, accepting it and conquering your fears is something to celebrate. Celebrate the big and small successes. You may celebrate finishing the day smiling, helping someone else, overcoming a fear, wearing a mask for a long time, creating a great story, setting the table, doing some exercise. It can be anything. Be kind to yourself and treat yourself with compassion.
What do you need for your child’s learning experience
Research what you need to help with your child’s learning situation. Do you need: course materials. babysitting, a learning environment to meet your child’s needs, a weekly chat with the teacher, a play date with school friends. Think about how you can meet your child’s physical, emotional, social and educational needs. You may be able to figure out some solutions before the learning begins, but not everything. Be flexible and change as the situation requires.
A schedule to help set learning expectations
Some children work best with a schedule. It helps them to know what to expect. Some children don’t do well with surprises. You don’t need to set a very detailed schedule but a general one is helpful. When will learning occur, independent, online, with a parent or at school? When is unstructured time? Don’t use it as a reward, everyone needs time to relax and rejuvenate. What chores need to be completed? When will homework be done? What time is bedtime?
Mask management /water bottle system
Continuing this year are masks. Have a place to put masks that need to be washed and a place to pick up clean masks. Have a water bottle with the child’s name on it and wash it with hot soapy water each day.
A pickup routine – washing/ disinfecting hands
If you are picking up your child from school or daycare think about having a way to clean or sanitize their hands before they enter your vehicle. I have a container of water with a lid in my car. When I am done working at a client’s house I wash with soap and water. Some people prefer hand sanitizer or wipes. Place their backpacks in the back of the car until they can be sanitized when you arrive home with soap and water. You may prefer to use disinfecting wipes to clean items when you pick the child up.
A great attitude
It is an adventure. Enjoy it. Think outside the box and develop solutions as problems arise. Nothing is too big. Break the problem into smaller parts and solve each part until there is no problem anymore. Make your child resilient. It is the best lesson they can learn.
Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home and office. She guides and supports you to manage your time. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Online courses are available to help instruct, coach and support your organizing projects. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to learn more about her online course Create an Organized Home.