Thousands of Arkansas K-12 students have traded in sandals and swimsuits for textbooks and pencils, but even after a couple of weeks, making the transition from vacation to school day may still seem a little rough. Not only are children having to get up earlier, but also their days may be longer with seven out of 10 parents reporting that their children participated in a sport or other extracurricular activity, according to the Pew Research Center.
Between early mornings, practices, clubs and homework, it’s easy for both parents and students to feel overwhelmed. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Family Life Specialist Brittney Schrick gives a few tips on how to make the transition a bit easier.* Prep the night before. “Do anything you can to streamline the process of getting ready in the morning,” Schrick advised. Completing any tasks that are usually reserved for the morning the night before, like signing forms and packing lunches, can save time, energy and stress in the morning.
Get enough rest. Schrick suggests going to bed a little early to make sure everyone is well rested to tackle the day ahead. This is especially important for teens who need almost as much sleep as an infant. “They can’t stay up until the wee hours of the morning and still function at 100 percent,” Schrick said.
Give everyone a responsibility. “Parents may feel the need to keep their thumb on a child in the morning, but it may actually be counterproductive,” Schrick said. She recommends establishing a morning routine for everyone so each person is responsible for making sure they are ready in the morning. Schrick said that visuals and charts can be helpful in creating these routines. “For pre-readers, putting pictures on a magnet board or Velcro that they move from one side to another when they have completed the tasks such as dressing, brushing teeth, packing backpack, etc. can help them work through a routine on their own without constant reminders from parents,” Schrick said.
Avoid overscheduling. While after school activities have many benefits, each extracurricular means after school meetings, practices and events to attend. If there are multiple children in a family those obligations can grow out of hand quickly, making putting a cap how many you and your family participate in necessary. “Kids and parents need time to recharge, and if your family is constantly going from one thing to the next, that recharge and connection time doesn’t happen consistently,” Schrick said. “Saying no is necessary at times.”
Remove distractions during homework time. If your child is watching TV or in the same room as younger siblings without homework, they can become distracted and not do as well on their assignment. “Make sure they do homework in an environment that is set up for success,” Schrick said.
For more information on family life, visit https://www.uaex.edu/health-living/personal- family-well-being/family-life- fridays-blog/.