Youth getting back to routine

For most students, the first week is well underway now, and school schedules have resumed to almost normal. Perhaps it is more of a, “new normal,” that is still regulating.

You may be getting used to how to best work your schedule with such a significant change, and if it’s your first year with a school aged child, you may be wondering how to connect with them about how their days are going and what they think of school.

I’m not an expert by any means, but we’ve been down this first week road quite a few times now, and we survived.

So at least there’s that.

If you’re interested on some tips for easing into the school year, for the first, or third, or tenth time, then I’ll just let you listen in on this refresher course that I’m about to put myself through.

Again, because I’m not an expert, but everyone can learn from each other from time to time.

1. Snacks. No matter the age of your student or student(s), it is highly likely that they haven’t had food since lunch time. For little tummies, that’s a really long time, and for pre-teen and teenager metabolism’s, that’s also quite a stretch.

When those kids get home, get them some food and a drink. If you’re not the one who’s home when they get there — tell whoever is there, or your older teen to make sure they feed that brain when they get home. Especially before they try jumping into any homework or possible after school activities.

If you have to make a stop or two on the way home, you may want to bring a snack with you that they can eat on the way there. This is if you want them to be cooperative. If it doesn’t matter to you, then just go ahead and try shopping with a hungry elementary aged student.

All joking aside, things will be significantly easier for you — and them — when you get those kids fed.

Can you tell I have boys?

2. Downtime. Most kids need just a little bit of time to decompress when they get out of school. For little kids this can mean playtime, for older kids it may mean going for a walk, or a bike ride. Our kids like to use the trampoline when they get home.

They’ve likely been sitting still for a large part of their day, and while that may be necessary for school work, they also need to move and play.

This will help their cognitive function and will get those wiggles out before it’s time to sit and do homework or sit still for dinner.

A quick trip to the playground on the way home from school can also help immensely, and is an immediate kid mood-booster, at least in my experience.

3. Targeted questions. Let me start this section by stating that every kid is different.

Our first son, when asked a general question about his day, will leave it at, ‘it was good,’ or, ‘not so good.’ However, if you ask specific questions, or targeted questions concerning points in his day, he could probably talk to you for twenty minutes or longer about it.

Finding out some details about the schedule or how the classroom runs from your child’s teacher can help with this.

Last year I would as if he earned any tickets during the day, or what games did he play at recess. What friends did he read with during the day, what snack did he pick from his cubby, books that were picked during reading time, etc.

These questions were the ones to produce a conversation, and to help connect with what was going on at school.

Our second son, who is far more talkative, would tell me all about his days at school with hardly any prompts. As though he had been saving things to tell me when I picked him up at the end of the day.

Then there’s our daughter. It’s her first year in an all-day program, but being a girl, she talks at least twice as much as her brothers.

She has never needed specific questions to tell me everything about any given subject in the past, but we will see how things develop this year.

You may also have a child who needs to not think about school until they can decompress and have some time alone. This is precisely how I remember feeling after school, and that’s ok.

If your questions aren’t getting anywhere, just drop the school talk and wait it out.

I hope that these pointers can help settle you and your family back into the first weeks back or first ever weeks of school, I know I’ll be heeding my own advice this week.

As always, thanks for reading, and happy new school year from hbk!

Katy Wise is a Fredonia resident.