All summer long my boys need to spend 20 minutes daily reading, and to work in their Summer Bridge books, at least 3x weekly. The Bridge books help to keep reading and math skills sharp and increase retention over the break. Many of the fun things the boys would like to do are options after they have done their skill oriented activities.
The week before school starts we begin a school bedtime schedule, in an effort to adjust their late night body clocks back to what is realistic for the school year ( bedtime at 8, waking up at 7).
As a classroom teacher, I have found that kids truly model the emotions and attitudes expressed by their parents. If parents are enthusiastic and positive, the kids will mirror that. More often than not, if parents are emotionally upset or even totally uncaring about the new school year, the kids will mirror those attitudes in the same way.
I think kids need to see their parents supportive and actively involved in their preparation process. Making it a positive experience to go and let them pick out a backpack, school supplies or new shoes helps build the excitement and give kids a feeling of control during a time that can be anxiety-ridden.
It's so important that at least one parent goes to the "meet the teacher" event at the school. Ours is typically held 2 days before school starts and allows the kids to not only meet their teacher, but to see their classroom before the first day. In addition to building excitement, walking through their new classroom and school can ease anxiety by giving the kids the security of knowing what to expect on the big first day. Attending also sends a positive message to the teacher and your student that you care about the experience and want to build a relationship with their teacher....who will be with your child more than you on most weekdays.
Finally, we have a tradition of going to get a scoop of ice cream after school on the first day. It gives them something to look forward to after school and gives us a chance to discuss expectations, realities and other news. Even my high schooler still expects first-day-ice-cream....he just asks for a triple now:).
When do you start getting your family back into the routine of school?
Usually 2 weeks to a month before...count down!
There are a lot of mixed emotions going on…how do you get your kids emotionally ready for going back to school?
Preparing calendars, talking about what's coming up especially with Junior High and High School.
Are the plays you want to try out for, sports you want to play. What are their goals for the year.
What went well last year, what didn't work so well...regarding homework, classess, teachers, peers etc.
What have you found helps your family the most in making a smooth transition?
Talking about real expectations. Especially when girls who are allowed a liberal dress code and they want that "special oufit" for the first day and they are freaking out because they can't find that PERFECT pair of jeans, etc., ask them what their best friend wore last year on the first day. Chances are they can't remember and it puts life into perspective.