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Here in Ontario we’re one week away from back to school so I thought this would be a great chance to share some of my hard-won back to school tips. After 10 years as an early interventionist and now going on 6 years as a mother, I am ALL about reducing stress, so I’m sharing my top tips to reduce the back to school stress for you and your kiddos as we start the school year.
Back to School Tip #1: LABEL EVERYTHING.
Buy the biggest pack of labels you can afford, pick a colour and make ALL OF THEM that colour. Stick one with your child’s last name and your phone number on everything that is going to leave your house including their underwear! Your child’s working memory and organisational skills are still pretty damn brand new! And those are two of the skills that are most often overlooked and rather weak…specifically because the don’t generally cause US problems until they leave our constant care. The secondary benefit of having your number on everything is that if your child ever gets lost they have about 10 different places on their body that they can indicate to call you. Looking for great labels? My favourites are Oliver’s Labels.
Tip #2- BENTO BOXES.
If your child has to bring their own snacks or lunch, I STRONGLY suggest getting a bento box. There really is one for every budget. The BIG benefit of a bento box- besides it being super easy to pack- is that there’s only one thing for your kid to open and close. Most preschools and kindergartens don’t have a huge amount of time allotted for eating, so if they can’t open and close their containers on their own, or if they spend half the time opening containers…then that’s even less time to eat. So no matter if they need to bring a lunch and two snacks, or they’re on a balanced day, or they just need to bring snacks- there are bento boxes of all sizes. Our favourite is the PlanetBox Rover.
Don’t stand like a deer in the headlights next time your child misbehaves. Grab the Scripts for Managing Crazy-Making Behaviour and know exactly what to say next time your toddler or preschooler isn’t listening.
Tip #3- VISUALS.
Morning routine visuals are HUGE for making mornings run smoothly. By creating visual lists and routine strips we reduce the amount of energy they need to use to remember it all. One of the best things I did last year was I made a visual list of ALL the things my son needed to bring home every day. In ParentAbility we have a whole library of ready-made visuals and a course on making custom ones for those times where you just need something tailored to your family. And all the visuals I’m adding in August are centred around making daycare/ school and preschool start easier.
Tip #4 – SPACE.
Your child is going to have to be using executive functioning skills they either haven’t had to use much up until this point or are having to use them at a much higher level than they’re accustomed to. They’re going to be spending a lot of energy at school and they’re going to be SO DONE when they get home. Give your child a wide berth when they get home. They need a chance to decompress and recharge. Let them do what comes naturally to them as that’s probably what restores their energy the most.
And then once you’ve had a 1-2 week adjustment period, start becoming a skills detective and figuring out what exactly it is that is sucking so much energy so that you can help them build that skill up at home. And if you want guidance on doing that – again, come join us in ParentAbility and we’ll give you a step by step plan on how to figure out what skills are sucking so much juice and target those skills.
May the odds be ever in your favour!
First, label everything that leaves your house, make them all the same colour, and put last name and phone number on them so that you don’t have to re-label every year. Next, get yourself a bento box. It’s easier to pack, easier to open, and easier to keep track of. Third, if there’s anything that makes you want to go “OMG why can’t you remember this?!”- MAKE A VISUAL FOR IT! Finally, understand that restraint collapse is real. Align your expectations with that fact they’re going to be spending a LOT of energy at school and they’re going to need to decompress when they get home.
So what do you think of these back to school tips? Are you doing these things? Did I give you some new ideas? When you look at your child’s school prep as an exercise in energy reduction- do you see some opportunities I didn’t mention here where you can do that? Let me know! I love hearing from y’all.