Ah, school. The good old days, right? We’ve rounded up some top tips to make sure back to school is just that, the good old days. It’s been a few years (give or take) since we were there ourselves and while things might have changed, much remains the same when it comes back to school, meaning there’s a great range of classic top tips to rely on. Your child is likely to be either super excited, or really nervous. Either way, we caught up with our Diono Parents to learn their best recommendations for a stress-free start to school.
Preparation is best started sooner than later…
You’re probably thinking “duh, obviously” but preparations are easily led astray, particularly while juggling your day-to-day alongside all the fun of the school holidays. Get together with your little ones and create a visual schedule board for how things will be when they begin school. This makes it way easier for them to understand what’s expected and learn some independence. Start from waking up right through to bedtime and test it out before school so they can learn their routine. Getting dressed comes before breakfast, playtime follows homework or chores and so on.
For older kiddos, create a checklist and practice rewarding them for completion without being prompted. Be sure to talk positively about the routine and schedule and check in every now and then to see if they have any concerns or are struggling. That way, you can teach them how to adapt and overcome their challenges.
Start scheduling earlier bedtimes ahead of school. The summer holidays have meant longer days for most of us and settling into a school routine will be way easier if your kiddo has learned how to go to bed early before the first day of school.
Communication is key
This goes for everyone! Check in with your little one about their feelings before school starts and help them to understand school a little better. It may be useful to take a visit to the school for a tour so they can get familiar with the place and meet their teacher. Parents, it’s equally important that you guys express any concerns you may have ahead of school too. You might benefit from a school visit yourself, maybe even a catch up with the principal and teachers yourself. If available, you may be able to obtain a list of the other children in your child’s class so you can add it to your visual schedule or start planning playdates.
Encourage enhanced classroom skills such as retaining information and asking questions by talking regularly with your child about their day or practicing problem solving at home. Your child will gain confidence and independence by learning with you and will be more likely to get involved in class.
Let’s hit the stores…
Probably the most fun part about back to school is stocking up on classroom supplies, backpack, lunchbox etc. Dedicate a day entirely to completing this task and complete as much as possible in one go so you know that everything is in order, and you have time to run any final checks closer to the first day of school. Make a list together but encourage your child to pick their own supplies where possible. This is a great way to get them engaged and excited about heading back to or starting school.
If your child will be having packed lunches, make a weekly plan for their meals and try to include healthy alternatives to make sure your child keeps their energy levels high during the day and is able to concentrate in class. You can usually bulk buy snacks, which is a great way to be kind to your budget if you have the space to store them! Alternatively, request to see the cafeteria menu in advance so you and kiddo can agree on the meal plan.
Your child’s school might be just around the corner, or all the way across town. Car crashes can happen anywhere at any time so it’s extremely important to check the car seat installation before every ride. Just give it a tug at the belt path to be sure it is still secured to the seat belt or with the lower anchors. Even if you’re running late it only takes a few seconds to check your installation.
The start of school can mean that winter weather is right around the corner. This is a good time for a reminder to remove bulky winter jackets before harnessing your child in their car seat. The extra thickness of the coat can give a false sense of a properly tightened harness which could put your child at risk during a crash.
If you or your child are part of a back-to-school carpool, make sure everyone has a proper child safety seat that fits each child’s height and weight. Most states have laws stating that children of a certain age must ride in a safety seat, whether it’s a convertible seat or a booster. If you’re the driver check your local laws to make sure everyone is safe. If your child is a carpool passenger you may need to provide a seat for your child to ride in.
Did you know that a school bus is the safest way for a child to travel to and from school, even though most don’t have seat belts or car seats installed in them? A big reason for this is because school bus passengers are protected by compartmentalization. The seats are close together, heavily padded and designed to absorb a high amount of crash energy. Put another way, the kids are like eggs in an egg carton. School buses are big, heavy and designed in a way that distributes the crash forces differently than a car, truck or van. Because of these and other safety features the occupants experience far less crash forces than they would if they were in a different vehicle.