Back To School Tips
Back to School
Top 5 Tips From Asheville Therapist to Get Your
Family Back in Routine:
Let’s face it, trying to get back on the school schedule is challenging for you and your kids. Routinely, I am talking with families about how important it is to use a balanced structure at home. As a child counselor in Asheville, I feel having a smooth transition helps a child’s overall functioning in school and home. Listed below are a few tips to help you get back in the groove!
1. Start Now– If you and your children have been staying up well into the wee hours of the morning start by getting back on a night time routine. Shorten bedtime by 30 minutes every 3 days until you are back at the normal school night bed time. Also, go ahead and get your kids to start the daily school night routine by picking out clothes the night before, have a “back-pack” ready to go, talk about what you will have for breakfast, etc. These small tasks will help their brains get ready for school nights in a few weeks.
2. Get Up– We all know how tough this one is, so start now. Use the same approach as you are at night by getting the kids/teens up 30 minutes earlier every 2-3 days until they are back on the school morning schedule. If you get refusal, try setting up a reward system or contest to help motivate them. Say, “Whoever can rise by the last morning wake up call will get a token, each token is turned in during the day for a special reward!” “First one up on time gets to pick where we go to breakfast!” “First one up today gets to choose our summer activity.” Try making it fun and be creative. During family counseling sessions, I have found sometimes the more fun we have the more success there is!
3. Get Busy– Okay lets face it, we try to make summer a little less structured which can lead to some “lazy” days. I will never forget the summer my sister and I had nothing to do as teenagers. With parents working and no drivers license, we found ourselves in front of the t.v. most of the summer. I thought my brain was going to be jello by the end of the summer. If this is your teen’s case, start getting them active. Encourage them to read, schedule them to go to the gym or outside when you get off work, have a chore list for them to complete. Even if you have to use a reward system to get them to complete tasks, it is better than no expectations at all. Have them research topics online that you have always wanted to know more about and then ask them type up a summary of the results. Some topic ideas: art/photography classes in your area, new recipes for dinner, top hiking trails in the area, or information about a dream vacation to Italy! If you really want to get creative ask your teen to research and plan a family outing within a small budget. This will give her a chance to use some budgeting skills as well as finding a fun place for the family to go. These ideas will help get their brains and bodies back into the go mode, because we all know school requires them to be attentive and active.
4. Read– I mentioned this in tip #3, but I feel it is important enough to label it under a separate tip. No matter what grade your child is in, set an expectation that they are to read every day at least 2 weeks before school starts. This may mean you have to sit down with them if they are in the initial phases of reading (I encourage daily reading all summer, but if that is not the case attempt to start here.) There are tons of reading materials out their that will interest your child, and it will really help prepare their brains for “academic mode” when school begins later this month. If you are really motivated and your child is writing invite them to write summaries about what they read. Again, don’t hesitate to use a positive reward system to praise effort or limit free time until this task is accomplished.
5. Limit Screen Time– That’s right, if you child has been maxing out their electronic privileges this summer it is time to get firm. Start reducing the amount of time they are online/gaming/watching t.v. I recommend no more than 1 hour of screen time a day, but I understand you may have to start reducing time in increments until you have reached your goal. As a child therapist, I find that the more children are outside, active, reading, and helping you with chores the better they are behaviorally, emotionally, and academically. Screen time is a treat, and should be used in small increments.
It is not uncommon to hit some bumps the first few months of school. If you are finding your child is not settling into the routine or their behaviors and emotions are consistently triggered you may want to consider counseling. I am happy to meet with you to see if my counseling services would be a good fit. I work regularly with parents and children on a number of school related issues. I hope these tips will at least get you started in the right directions!
Until Next Time,