Champaign-Urbana families can take steps to prepare for the back-to-school routine
Independence and self-care skills are always of great importance when it comes to your soon-to-be-school-aged child. And since the usual “school routine” has been, er, not quite typical since March 2020, this year is even more important to take steps to establish solid habits. We’re anticipating some tired children, teachers, (and parents, too) as we all navigate the steps of transitioning back to school. These tips have been crafted with all ages in mind, though some will be more relevant to younger elementary kids and others will apply to tweens and teens, too.
Thank you to Christie Clinic for presenting our 2021 Champaign-Urbana Area Back to School series.
Christie Clinic is encouraging parents to schedule a school physical. Starting school physical appointments now will allow Christie Clinic Department of Pediatrics and Department of Family Medicine to best serve all patients while maintaining a safe visit environment. Enhanced precautions are in place to keep patients and team members safe including additional hours, visitor restrictions and social distancing to reduce the number of people in our facilities. Parents can currently make back-to-school appointments for their children through their MyChristie patient portal or online at christieclinic.com.
Alleviate lunchtime-stress by packing a lunch for your child this summer. Have them work on opening their lunch packages and drinks (where does the straw go in that Capri Sun?!) Many early elementary students struggle with this skill. Helping children practice boosts their confidence and allows them to spend more time actually eating when lunchtime arrives. Practice with a timer to show your child how long that they will have to eat their lunch so that they can work on efficiently managing their time.
Carry a backpack here to there and everywhere
Have your child work on carrying a backpack with a few fun toys inside this summer. Arrival and departure times at school can be somewhat chaotic for students and teachers. This skill is good for children to work on so they can practice zipping up, putting on, and taking off their own backpacks independently. And pick the spot in your house where the school stuff needs to live, so that they know where to hang their backpack up at the end of each day — so it doesn’t end up on the floor (because let’s face it….we all know that is where they end up).
Start a calendar together
Children thrive on routine and predictability. Create a calendar with your child and let them know about important family events coming up or countdown to their birthday or a special activity. This helps them learn the concept of time and how to process this important passage of time. Some children benefit from physically marking off the days on their calendar or listing chores on this document, as well, so that they can visually track their activity and performance.
Review proper hand washing
We would recommend reviewing this skill with your kids for any school year, but DEFINITELY this year. The whole family can work on practicing this together. Teach your children to grab the soap, sing a song that lasts 20 seconds (ABCs anyone?), rinse and dry. You can take some time to try out automatic hand sanitizers too, so kids know the proper way to “catch” sanitizer and rub it all over.
For your youngest students, go over bathroom etiquette
Beyond the basics of pulling clothes down and pulling them back up, there are a few other reminders to revisit before going to school. Talk about remaining in the stall until all their clothing is readjusted, not peeking under stalls at other kids. You can emphasize the importance of privacy by encouraging your kids to close the bathroom door at home, even if that’s something they don’t normally do. It’ll translate well to all other areas of life.
Make learning fun the final weeks of summer and refresh their memory as to what they’ve learned
It doesn’t matter what age your kids are and whether you have completely forgotten about that math packet that was in the end-of-year garbage bag back in May. Incorporate learning into activities that are fun and motivating for your child the next few weeks. Practice letters with sidewalk chalk, find reasons to write things with a pencil and paper (letters to Grandma, perhaps) or make some homemade ice cream and talk about that (delicious) science experiment that is happening. You know your kids and what will bend their minds back into learning activities as the school year approaches.
Read a book — any age, any stage
Take your kids to the library to pick out books they are interested in reading because no matter what their age, it always helps to have something fun to read. You can check out some, too, and lead by example. Cracking a book open is a great way to get moving back toward the school groove of reading assignments and as long as it’s summer break, your kids get to have all the say in what they’re reading.
Get out and move
One thing is for sure, we are all going to have to work on building our endurance for being on the go on a daily basis this fall. Some children have become more sedentary during the past year and a half, and easing back into daily activities may take some adjustment on everyone’s behalf. Encourage your children to get outside and engage in physical activity to work on increasing tolerance for fall routines.
Enjoy every last minute of summer
For real. Make memories to last a lifetime and embrace the next several weeks as the school year rapidly approaches. It’s ok to be a little sad that summer is coming to a close, but make sure to take time to enjoy the dog days of summer.
Check out our entire Back to School Series, presented by Christie Clinic:
- Back to School: Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten
- Back to School: 9 Tips to Prepare for the School Routine
- Money-Saving Tips for Back-to-School Shopping
- Champaign-Urbana Area School Start Dates
- Back to School: Dental, Vision Exams Required for Illinois Students
- Champaign-Urbana Area School Registration Information for 2021-22
- Back to School: Immunizations Required for Illinois Students
- School Physicals: What’s Required for Illinois Students in 2021