Last Friday evening hit us hard. At least it hit my five year old daughter hard. After two fun-filled weeks of kindergarten, she came home Friday afternoon completely exhausted and beside herself with emotion. The previous two weeks had been everything she had wanted and yet, by Friday afternoon absolutely nothing could go right. She was in major meltdown mode.
I had been expecting her to fall apart at some point, having watched my six other children transition into full-time school. Each of the others had shown their exhaustion in their own ways when they went to kindergarten, and I tried to prepare for the break-down in a few ways. What has been interesting to watch is that the transition back to school continues to affect my other children, no matter how old they are. So as we move forward into full-throttle school, here are some measures that I try to put into place to help smooth those very busy days.
- Keep as much of the same routine as possible. The fewer transitions happening at once the easier for your children to manage them.
- Add new activities for the school year one at a time, keeping in mind that school requires more from your child both physically and mentally–even after school play dates can put a usually happy child right over the edge.
- Make home a place of respite, with lots of down time allowed, so your child can regroup for another very tiring day away from home and family.
- Although many after school activities start as soon as the school year starts–and seem like great additions to traditional learning–consider taking the first quarter off from outside activities, especially if this is your child’s first full-time school experience. They need time at home with mom, dad and siblings to reconnect and not become overwhelmed and overtired from too many outside responsibilities–let them be a kid for a little longer.
- Early bedtimes are essential. Children’s bodies are in desperate need of a certain number of hours and if they are not getting the rest they need, they will not be able to learn to their full potential. This is another reason outside activities that cause late nights may need to be limited for the time being.
With a little planning and careful evaluation of your family’s schedule, you can help your school-aged children find the rest they need and be prepared for a successful learning experience every day. Along with that, you will be able to guard your family time and help your child enjoy their time at school and other activities without too many more meltdowns.
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