So much to do, so little time…..I hope that is not what you are thinking as we reach the end of August. It is a busy month for sure and often the transition from summer to “school” can make the new situation seem even more challenging. Here are five things to think about to make this year more manageable, less stressful and not quite as “crazy” as last year.
- Each school year is a new start. Although each grade comes with its own challenges, it also comes with its own rewards. Major transitions are in first, fourth, six (or whatever grade your middle school starts at) and 9th grade. If it’s a new school, take time to tour it and find the bathrooms, locker, lunch room and office. Notice when your child is struggling – is it a lack of understanding, frustration, distraction or boredom? It’s a new start for you as well. Set yourself a goal of making this a calmer, more organized year and notice what is getting in the way. This year fix it so that tomorrow is better than today.
- Don’t overbook. Children need time to play and be outdoors and they can’t do that if they are overbooked and running from one activity to another. Make choices and remember homework should not be an afterthought. Don’t expect your child to have any energy left for homework if they are going all day long. They have a right to some “free” time too and need it to recharge, so make sure homework doesn’t use up all available time. Sleep 8+ hours is best. Remember your role in extra curricula activities, are you the pick up or drop off person? What does that mean for your schedule and for the family’s evening?
- Get organized! This is probably the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family. When the morning runs smoothly, the day goes better too. It’s important to have routines and habits that serve you and the family like a morning routine, an evening routine that includes getting ready for the next day, a regular shopping day or at least a meal plan so you know what is for dinner each night. Having a family meeting helps everyone know what is up for the week with extra curricula activities and/or appointments.
- Prepare for the week ahead. Everybody knows that having clean clothes makes getting dressed easier. Same goes for having a clean and organized backpack, it makes the homework go easier. Take the time to prepare what you can for the week ahead. Some ideas are laundry done, snacks and food choices, rooms picked up and backpacks organized. Use a planner whether it is digital or paper doesn’t matter but the pace of your life means you shouldn’t rely on your memory without some backup. Use the reminder app on your phone for really important things.
- Lastly, if your child has ADHD or Executive functioning challenges, then no amount of coaxing, rewarding, threatening or seizing of things they hold dear, is going to help them get their work done any faster or better. Imagine what it would be like if they understood what was getting in the way of their success and had some strategies that they could use to push through the homework. You have the power to make this year better for the entire family by helping them develop the strategies and understanding they need to be successful. We can help too.