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Back to school in 3…2…1. It’s coming up! Are you ready?

By Marté J. Matthews, LMFT, Clinical Director

This past year and a half has been very difficult, to say the least, and kids have had a hard time with very different ways to “go to school” during the pandemic. But now kids are going back, masks and all.

Are you ready for back to school?

Maybe not quite yet? Start getting ready now…or even better two weeks ago! What helps the kids get back in that routine? Start with these ideas:

  • Summer morning schedules usually start later than school will start. If that’s true for you, begin to adjust late bedtimes earlier by 10-15 minutes every night or two and adjust wake up times by that much, too! Help their tummies adjust with regular mealtimes that “synch up” with school brunch and lunch times. Waking up early isn’t mean. It really will help all of you get back on track.

  • Practice the routines. In summertime many families are relaxed about hygiene. Help your child adopt the good habits they need with morning routines and bedtime routines with lists. Even something as simple as using the bathroom-they all go on there, so that kids can check them off. Here’s an important tip, parents: no nagging! If your child needs a little extra incentive, try a friendly competition about who can get dressed first, or try a “beat the clock” game.

  • Start the expectations of chores and odd jobs around the house now, and continue it into the school year to promote personal responsibility. Use charts and reminder lists so the parents don’t end up micromanaging the job! Express appreciation and admiration!

  • Reduce screen time on TVs, iPads and video games. Increase exercise, fun educational projects and reading time in these last few weeks before school, to promote healthy bodies and brains!

  • Starting at a new school? Haven’t been to school in a year? Visit the school, walk around the campus and playground, find the different rooms, bathrooms and classrooms. Get acquainted with the layout of the school. Don’t wait until their teacher assignments get posted the Friday before schools open.

  • Practice the route your child will walk or bike. If the child has been at the school before, talk about positive memories they have of the playground, their Kinder teacher and classroom, etc.

  • And of course… the Covid precautions: practice wearing masks for more than just a few minutes to get ready for the classroom. Have kids practice wearing them for different activities, starting with 5-10 minutes, but gradually getting longer and longer. Pack extras in their backpack and make sure they know where to find them. Teach kids how and when to change their masks safely. Practice good handwashing with soap. Review when to wash up and why it’s important. Make sure the kids have hand sanitizer they will actually use, and they know how to use it appropriately. What will they use? Gel that sparkles and smells like cotton candy? Sure! Spray in a bottle in a holder on a blue carabiner? You bet! Whatever gets them to use it!

If your children are feeling anxious about heading back to school this Fall, or if your kids are not cooperating with the safety measures, we invite you to call. Schedule a parenting consultation with one of our therapists for more recommendations on ways to help families handle the back to school season. Visit our website: Contact Child & Family Counseling Group at or 408-351-1044.

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