Written by KidApprovedBC 18/09/18
So how is back-to-school going for your family? Loving all of the routine and structure? Or drowning in the paperwork, schedules and sudden rush-rush-rush. And what about the kids? Some kids are total stars at this time of year and truly embrace new challenges and environments. Other kids might be anxious, clingy, slow to accept change and struggling to adjust. These challenges have inspired the “Kid Approved September Survival Guide”, with a round up of expert advice, strategies for coping with all the change and suggestions for family time and total reconnection.
September Survival Guide – Guest Expert Megan Zeni
Our first guest expert in the series is educator and doctoral student Megan Zeni, B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed. Megan is a teacher, a mother of three, co-creator of Room to Play and founder of the Classroom Gardener. So we thought she might have just a few tips and tricks for making this time of year going a bit more smoothly.
Invest the time in organizing schedules, paperwork and information.
Megan strongly recommends creating a clear system for managing the flow of paper that comes home from school. Even electronic notices need a place to live, and many forms still require hard copy signatures. Whether it’s a binder system, folders or even electronic storage, be sure to have a manageable flow. Find more ideas from her blog post Organizing Tips for School Paper.
She also suggests creating a visual calendar that the kids can see. While you may have your own electronic calendar, a colour-coded family calendar that includes extracurricular activities, professional days and pick up and drop off schedules will provide everyone a clear visual plan for the month.
Have a well defined plan with your partner regarding who is picking up and dropping off for school, sports and other activities. This will reduce stress for everyone and minimize last minute confusion.
And with all of this organizing, spend some time reaching out to family, friends and your local community for an assist on the really hectic days. Are there carpool options with another family for sports? Or perhaps a is neighbour available to watch a younger sibling while an older child is heading to piano lessons. Megan is a strong proponent of asking for help and pooling resources among families in the same community.
Protect the sleep.
It is a busy time of year and kids often get shortchanged on sleep, leading to meltdowns and tantrums. Megan is absolutely firm that bedtime must be a non-negotiable, and clear routines are in place to get kids to bed at a reasonable hour.
Her tips for bedtime success:
- No electronics in the two hours prior to bedtime. Gaming can trigger a child’s fight-or-fight response, and the brightness of the screen is counterproductive to sleepiness.
- Dim the lights throughout the house to signal that wind down time has begun.
- Create autonomous routines that kids can manage themselves.
- Have clarity and consistent boundaries around bedtimes.
Unplug as a family.
Megan’s final strategy for maintaining family harmony is slowing down and spending time together. With all of the hectic activity that this time of year can bring, take time to just hang out together.
Here are some of her favourite ways to reconnect:
- Go for a Walk: Invest in decent rain gear and get outside no matter what the weather. Kids need to release their inner wild child even on wet days, and the fresh air and exercise benefits adults as well. Some Kid Approved recommendations for a blustery day: George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary to puddle jump with the ducks; Redwood Park for a protective tree canopy and charming fairy houses; or a hot chocolate-fuelled walk with brollys and boots on the iconic White Rock Pier.
- Gardening: Here is Megan’s post on fall gardening with kids. And it is such a great time to visit a gardening centre if you need supplies. We love with all of the harvest inspired decor and pop-up pumpkin patches. Art Knapp Surrey can be an whole afternoon of activity with a playground, mini-train and more. Check out Vandula Farms for both a farm market and garden centre, and Potters has destination worthy seasonal activities.
- Family Games Night: Boardgames are a great way for kids to learn math skills, reading and critical thinking. Plus they’re just plain fun! Grab the snacks and bust out the games. Looking for some new games to add to the collection? Try Toys + Tech in Tsawwassen, Grey Haven Hobbies in White Rock, or to save some pennies, Finds Children’s Exchange in Ladner and Buckets of Fun in Surrey have a fantastic selection of gently loved games.
- Movie Night: The mantra here is “Use electronics to bring the family together.” So snuggling up together in pjs with popcorn is all good, especially after that rainy walk!