Monday, January 6, 2014

GR Kids (will eventually) Go Back to School

For kids, winter break can be a glorious time, just as much as going back to school can be a dreadful time. Michigan children are getting a little reprieve this week because of our extreme weather, but soon enough they are looking at open schools and months of more work and less play. Most adults remember praying hard for snow days and how disappointing it was when the weather just missed us. Back to the grindstone.

For parents, this transition can be trying as well. Kids who were up at the break of dawn on Christmas morning suddenly can't be pried out of bed. And getting them to do homework again is another stressor. Here are few easy tips to help make the switch from break to school that much smoother. 

Get back into your school routine again. For most children, break means staying up later and watching more TV or playing more computer than usual. It is important to reestablish the school routine when transitioning out of winter break. Make sure your kids go to bed at a normal bedtime so they will have enough energy for school. If you didn't start this routine this past weekend, you've got today and tomorrow to get them settled into normalcy.

Cut back on the sweets. Children get all kinds of sweets and treats for Christmas and New Year's. Every event is another opportunity to inhale sugar and carbs. Before school starts, set firm limits again on snacking and sweets and reintroduce proteins and vegetables into their diet. They will sleep better and have more energy without as much hyperactivity. Have them try cooking with you or taking a cooking class for kids. Kids who work to make their food are more open to trying what they've created.

Make sure your kids are getting some exercise. In those harsh, winter months when break ends and school begins again, staying locked up in the house for days leaves children feeling restless. On a snowy afternoon, after the snowplow has cleared your driveway, take your kids out sledding or ice-skating. Do an activity that will tire them out after a few hours so that going to bed a little earlier is a lot easier. Limiting media is doctor advised, and exercise leads to happier days for you and them.

For most kids, the transition from fun to academics is hard. Do your best to make learning fun for them. Update their school supplies and have them decorate new school folders. Get them excited about learning again by taking a day trip to the public library or to the Grand Rapids Public Museum (there's a great dinosaur exhibit right now!). Sit down as a family for some homework time every day; doing it together will help them and keep you involved in their education and aware of what is going on at school.

When making the transition from break to school, remember: consistency, consistency, consistency. Kids will struggle against the boundaries that you draw for them, but they will also thrive when they fully understand and can meet expectations. It can be trying initially, but with a little coaxing, your kids will get right back into the swing of things.