Preparing for a Successful Transition from Summer to School Year

Everyone, especially younger ones, enjoy the lazy days of summer. Chaotic mornings which accompany a school year yield to a relaxed and enjoyable schedule, implemented by parents and not the school system. Summer days are perfect opportunities for both children and teens to spend time outside, exploring the outdoors, participating in a summer sport or simply enjoying time with family and friends. Since summer days are more laid back, the transition from summer to the school year can be difficult for students and parents. This change is no small adjustment and can be physically, emotionally and mentally challenging for everyone. Read below for five tips (from a teacher) on how to effectively conquer this seasonal shift. 

Tip #1: Do not wait until the first week of school to begin waking up earlier. As an educator, the biggest challenge I sense from my students as they begin the school year is that they are often physically exhausted. The summer nights are times for the youth to stay up later, enjoying time with family and friends. However, school mornings start early! Especially for students in middle or high school. Consider creating a summer schedule that starts earlier in August. This could be either through enrolling children in a summer camp that begins early or simply waking up children earlier to do activities. This will help all not feel the pain of having to be up and focused earlier in the day.

Tip #2: Make sure that your morning schedule mirrors your nightly schedule. Waking up earlier and practicing a stricter morning routine will not be successful if night schedules are too relaxed. Evening schedules should also change. Consider enforcing a stricter bedtime routine for the youth as early as August 1st. This does not mean that the entire family needs to be in bed by 7:30 PM. However, it does mean that parents need to begin adjusting everyone’s schedule to ensure a reasonable bedtime. From dinner, to bathing, to story time, the whole family can reap the benefits from retiring earlier. As the adage goes, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man [or woman] healthy, wealthy and wise.” 

Tip #3: Defeat the emotional fear of returning to school through goal setting. Emotionally, many students experience stress or anxiety at the thought of leaving the care-free days of summer for the strict schedules of a school year. Parents can alleviate this emotional turmoil by talking with their children about setting exciting goal(s) for the upcoming school year. Is a child interested in joining a new sport, learning how to play a new instrument or joining a new club? Tap into their excitement about whatever hobby they are excited to explore, as this will help the student ease back into school. Did a child not do well in a particular subject the year prior? Consider this new school year a blank slate, for one to succeed in all their subjects, especially the challenging ones. 

Tip #4: Practice scholarly activities, through creating “End-of-Summer Learning Challenges.” Summer days often lead to important lessons. Consider tapping into whatever activity the child enjoyed the most this summer and creating some type of learning experience. Did the family enjoy a trip to the NC coast? “Assign” an age-appropriate homework assignment about this experience? If they are younger, they could draw out their favorite “scene” from their trip to the beach and present it to the family. If they are older, they could journal about the trip, and create a scrapbook from the mementos from their coastal visit. Did one’s child participate in a summer camp? Try having them teach their siblings or parents a few of the camp lessons they learned. Did your teen have a summer job? Help them budget out a portion of their funds to purchase new “back-to-school” apparel! 

Tip #5: Invite all to help set up their own Creative Cozy Corner! Involve the entire family to designate one area of the house where students of all ages can enjoy scholarly activities. Use the last days of summer to help clean a specific area and set it up. This area will not only need to be quiet and well-lit, but a space where children can feel comfortable working independently, as well. Consider stringing up special lights and setting up a small desk with all the school essentials – pencils, crayons, markers, paper, calculators, workbooks – so children can work quietly. By having a specific area designated for schoolwork, children can realize that learning is not only done at school but starts and ends at home.

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