By Mei-le Apalucci
Once the holidays are over, it’s time for back to school. But often it’s hard for our children to get back into the daily routine of school. “What we see while everyone is on break is there’s a lot of unstructured time, so coming back to school and starting up a routine again can be difficult,” said Jill Anderson, a therapist at Hillsides Education Center. “Aside from re-adjusting to a schedule, sometimes children face new teachers or classes in the new year, which can add to their stress.”
Here, Anderson gives five tips for parents that can help make the transition back to school easier:
- Flood your child with positivity. Start by empathizing with your child and acknowledging the difficulty – after all, you’re probably struggling to get back into a rhythm, too. Next, don’t let them fall into negativity. Sending positive messages of encouragement, such as “You’ll be back in the swing of things in a few days” or “Remember you felt this way at the end of summer but got over it quickly” will help keep the grumpiness away.
- Re-commit to a school-day routine. Now is a good time to reboot any daily habits that may have atrophied over the months since school started in the fall, such as ensuring your kids gather their books together the night before school or setting the alarm early in the morning. “Kids respond well to a routine, and setting up a firm one after the holidays will help your children re-adjust to the rhythm of school,” says Anderson.
- Be firm and hold your children accountable. While you want to be sympathetic to your children for the winter school slump, you aren’t doing any favor by letting them push off homework or other school duties. Instead, give them the tools they need, such as a quiet work space, and insist they do their homework first, then have fun later. “The quicker they can get back into the swing of things at school, the quicker they’ll feel happier,” says Anderson. In addition, the new year is a chance for a fresh start. Don’t let bad habits form that will have an impact on rest of the year.
- Restart healthy habits. After all the extra sweet treats from the holidays, making a commitment to preparing healthy meals and cutting down on sugary snacks will help get your kids back into a healthy rhythm. Bedtimes also go out the window during the hectic holiday season, so now is a good time to reinforce earlier bedtimes and curfews. All these cues will help signal to your children that it’s back to business and help them adapt to the school routine.
- Keep the holiday fun alive. One reason children suffer from holiday withdrawal is because of all the fun family events that take place over the break, which quickly evaporate once real life starts again. The solution is to continue to build in quality family time into your daily schedule, whether it’s a game night, a weekend trip to the movies, or a Friday night chili dinner. This gives your kids something to look forward to after a long day at school, which will help keep them motivated.
Luckily it should only be a few weeks before the back-to -school blues are over, and your household should be back to normal.
Mei-le Apalucci is currently working at Hillsides as the social media and communications Intern. She is originally from Maryland, where she graduated from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, with degrees in both film and art.