The beginning of the season was met with hesitation as schedules shifted, friends departed, and no one knew what to expect day to day.
Once the sandals came out, the pool opened, and the kids got excited about their “school night” movies, no sooner did summer come to a close.
It is tough on the whole family to jump into a new itinerary right when you were feeling you had a groove with this one, but we can help.
With some easy prepping and expert tips, being a support for the children while you graciously slide into fall will be an autumn breeze.
Don’t worry about precision or the order of any of the steps. Parents and children alike will pick up on their new schedules in no time, making summer an album of fun memories.
- Transition gradually
Big, abrupt changes are difficult on kids, and they often show their discomfort through behavior issues.
Start with small adjustments. Maybe no more late nights catching fireflies during the week, and, as much as it pains you, get the kids used to waking up at a consistent and reasonable time in the mornings.
Jennifer Kolari is a family and child therapist and author of ‘Connected Parenting.’
Parents reports on her advice on the shifting end-of-summer schedule:
“Slowly start to change some of the routine so it’s not such a shock in September. We sometimes get a little looser in the summer. I think it’s easier if the day begins to have a little more structure to help kids practice the transition.”
- Get the kids involved
Clinical psychologist and art therapist, Dr. Robin Goodman, says that letting your kids be a part of school shopping, scheduling, and setting up the new chore chart, will make the transition back to the more stringent itinerary easier, reports Parents.
Kids are often more apt to hop on board with a plan if they feel empowered through the whole process.
Plus, it will give you and your kids more one-on-one time before the days get too hectic, and you will get quality time to hear where your kids are at in their development.
- Be aware of feelings
Kids don’t always verbalize exactly what they are feeling during any given situation – and when we say “don’t always” we mean barely ever.
Going back to school or daycare can be really hard for kids, especially if they were having difficulty in the academic or social field.
Watch out for signs your child is dealing with some big emotions. Some examples of red flags are excessive crying, clinging, tantrums, aggression, or trouble sleeping.
Kolari warns to watch the behavior of your children, rather than what they may be telling you:
“It’s very rare for kids in this age group (5 to 8-year-olds) to sit down and talk about their feelings. They show you what’s wrong through their behavior instead of telling you with their words what’s wrong.”
- Hear your kids out
Which brings us to our next coping strategy for kids struggling to make that transition out of summer – listen to them!
This may seem like an obvious support tool for your kids but listening for issues in children takes a little detective work.
Just like everyone, kids just want to be heard. So, if they are telling you that they don’t want to go to the new classroom, don’t try to dismiss that.
Hear them out and listen to the underlying reasons they are experiencing fear; maybe they have a new teacher they don’t feel comfortable with, or they are made to read in front of the class when they struggle with it.
- Try to minimize surprises
Surprise birthday parties are fun, being surprised with a new class schedule where you can’t find any of the classroom is not.
Go through what a typical day will look like when summer ends with your child and see where they might struggle. Don’t be above role-playing either, its an excellent tool.
Dr. Goodman suggests:
“If you predict something will be on your kid’s mind, then prepare for it. Have your child work out the best coping strategies with you.”
- Double up the hugs
Give your kids the confidence they need for an excellent new school year by letting them know how amazing they are.
Spend extra quality time together cuddling on the couch reading a book or playing a few rounds of hide and go seek in the evenings.
Kolari explains how spending time together prepares your child for summer to end:
“Although you’d think that would make your child not want to leave you, the exact opposite happens. It’s like you’re filling them up and they’re getting what they need. That’s strengthening to them, so they can go off to school and feel a lot better.”
- Make a list of goals
Remind your child of all the accomplishments they have made during the last year. Did they earn a karate belt, make a new friend, or learn to ride a bike?
Discuss what goals they would like to achieve in the coming year, giving a clear positive direction for their future.
Through showing the strides your child has made already, even when it was difficult in the beginning, you show them “that what seemed hard, in the beginning, ended up being easier—and they learned a lot,” Dr. Goodman encourages.
- Go out with a bang
Having an official end-of-summer celebration can give kids closure to one chapter while getting excited about what comes next.
Summer fun brings so many happy memories. Try making a photo album for each of the kids to cherish, or gather around a campfire and share your highlights of the season.
If you feel up to it after months of lugging a pool bag around, invite the neighbors over for a barbecue to celebrate together.
Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Help your kids beat the end-of-summer blues with these transition tips.
And remember all the best activities of the summer to put on a wishlist for next summer, which will be here before you know it!
Please let us know in the comments section if you have any tips for closing summer out with minimal tears.