Back to School - Tips for Inviting Calm and Cooperation

Here we are, at the start of another school year…  I don’t know about you, but I LOVE back to school time – to me this is the true New Year.  It is a huge time of change for everyone, parents and kids both.  We are busy buying school supplies and new clothes, anticipating new teachers and new schedules – all of this can begin to feel really overwhelming for our families…

Here are three things you can do to not only create calm and but also invite cooperation during this exciting and sometimes stressful time:

Create routines with your children.  Kids who have a consistent routine to follow are more able to stay focused and contribute.  Any time there is a transition in your day is a good time to work out a routine – getting ready for school, getting home from school, after dinner, before bed. 

Make a list with your kids of the task that need to be accomplished (no more than 6-8 tasks), offer them the tools they need to create a visual reminder, and hang it where they think it will be most useful.  The routine then becomes the boss, when kids are lagging in the morning, or falling apart at bedtime you can encourage them to check out “what else they have on their routine chart.” 

Give your kids the chance to feel capable.  All of our school-aged kids are old enough to be packing their own lunch.  They are old enough to get themselves dressed in the morning.  They are old enough to help clean up the kitchen after dinner.  What they need form you is some training and some skills. 

Make a list of all the food that fits under each food group, using words or pictures for nonreaders, and let them choose what to pick.  Post this on the fridge so they can refer to it throughout the year. Purchase clothes that are easy to put on and access.  Let your kids know that you have faith they can pick out something that is appropriate for the weather.  Have small tasks kids can do to help with the after dinner chores.  Make a list of things that needs to get done together and then let your kids pick two or three things to do each night.  We are all in this together, and including kids in this after dinner work lets them know they are valued members of the family.

Post a weekly or monthly schedule somewhere that everyone can see it.  This is helpful for kids and grown ups.  We are busy, and kids will feel a sense of security and calm when they know what is going on each day.  Use a white board or a laminated piece of poster board and dry erase markers and post what is happening each week – or a chalkboard, or a regular calendar.  Refer to this schedule when the kids ask what they can expect each day or week.

Including kids in routines and schedules and family work makes a huge difference in the overall behavior you see from them.  Enjoy this, encourage your kids, and trust that you can create calm in your home…

Casey O’Roarty, M.Ed. is the mother of two kids at Salem Woods Elementary, a Positive Discipline Trainer, and owner of Joyful Courage, a business offering workshops and classes to encourage parents to help their children be their best selves.  Her next seven-week class begins September 14 at the Monroe/Sky Valley YMCA – register now to reserve your spot!