In an ideal world, my kids would be heading back to school with their eyes bright and an excited grin on their faces.
In reality, not so much.
The last time I brought up back to school a couple of weeks ago, my kids recoiled like I’d threatened them with a month without video games. I think they make have uttered an involuntary scream as well.
Serves me right for making summer so much fun. It’s no wonder that they’re not too exited to give up kayaking at the lake, swimming in the backyard pool, and rainy days full of video games and baking cookies. I wouldn’t want to give that up either.
That said, back to school is a reality, and I’ve had to do some fast legwork to get them excited to go back.
Odds are, a lot of parents are in the same boat.
So we’ve come up with some quick tips for how to get your kid excited for back to school.
1. Let your kid talk about their worries
Bottling things up inside isn’t good for anyone. Odds are, if your kids don’t want to go back to school, there’s something there that’s worrying them. They may be worried that they won’t make friends (or that their existing friends won’t want to spend time with them, that they’ll have a bad teacher, or even that their clothes aren’t nice enough. They may even just be generally anxious about the change. Let them chat about it, and just let them know they’re heard.
2. Don’t project YOUR worries onto your kid
As a parent, no matter how careful we are, we let our worries and insecurities trickle down to your kids. This is a bit of a tough one, but if your school days were full of bullies or bad teachers, you may be unconsciously making your kids worried about them too. It’s important to look out for our kids, but it’s also important to know when our worries are trickling down and causing them stress.
3. Get them involved in back to school planning
This one’s going to depend a lot on your kid’s age and disposition, but letting your kid have a hand in buying new clothes and school supplies can be a great way to get some kids involved. Let them choose their binders or pens, and you may just see their attitude about back to school improve.
4. Talk about past success at school
Reminding your kids of positive school-related events and successes can be a great motivator for back to school. Remind them of a good grade in math, or even how they’ve met some great friends at school.
5. Get together with school friends
Spending some time with friends from school can go a long way to reducing a kid’s anxiety about seeing school friends again. Just make sure that you pick a friend that’s going to be a positive experience for your kid.
6. Have a reward for after school
If you’re truly having trouble getting your children excited about back to school, it may be time to bring out a reward for after their first day (or first week). The reward will depend on your kid, of course, but video games and special events like going to a water park work well for many kids.
7. Check out the school
Spending a little time walking through the school, and meeting up with teachers can do a lot to reduce anxiety. Your kid will have a frame of reference for the first day, and everything won’t all be so new.
8. Take the pressure off
It’s not the end of the world if the first day (or even the first week) back to school turns out to be a bad one. My son had a bit of a hard time for the first month adjusting to a new school in grade three. But guess what? With a little time and patience, he made great friends. Help teach your kids that a bad day isn’t the end of the world.
9. Adjust bedtime and wake up times early
There’s nothing much less fun than having to drag a sleep-deprived, reluctant kid to school the first day of school. I speak from experience here.
Try to get the kids adjusted to their school bedtimes by gradually moving their summer bedtime to the school schedule. How long that’ll take will depend on your child, and how late they’ve been getting to bed (and no judgement here, I hesitate to say how late our kids get to bed some summer nights). Try starting switching the routine two weeks before classes start to give you and your kids plenty of time to adjust.
10. Have some fun with back to school!
Brainstorm some fun ideas for back to school. Here are a few ideas:
- make some fun bento lunches (there’s a cute,easy Hello Kitty bento lunch here)
- take some time to walk your kids home from, and stop for a sweet treat on the way home
- make a fun day out buying school supplies, complete with ice cream and playground stops (just don’t drag them to every store in town, or you’ll defeat the purpose of making it fun)
- get them a fun T-shirt with their favorite cartoon or superhero character
- volunteer in your kid’s class. My kids love it when they see me in their class (though they may change their minds in their teens; that remains to be seen)
- leave a fun note in your child’s lunchbox
Do you have any great back to school tips? Share your own back-to-school tips with us below.
Pencil photo by unbekannt270 on Flickr.