In two short weeks, children will be shouting “School’s in,” and parents will be wondering how to make the school year work for their family. On the other hand, it is that hectic time for school clothes shopping, buying endless school supplies, and lots of scheduling before the school year begins. We all want our children to have the best school year ever, with lots of memories from field trips, science fairs, spirit nights, and sports activities to keep children out of trouble. But as parents we must remember to include the younger sibling and prepare them for back to school. If only we could plan the school year with unlimited child care, a personal assistant, and special play dates. However, we must stay organized and focused before these last few days of summer vacation ends. Oftentimes, the pressure that we put on ourselves can be overwhelming. However, including the younger sibling in back to school can help the transition in the next couple of weeks. Before you begin preparing for the school year review this article for four helpful tips to prepare the younger sibling for back to school.
Include younger sibling in back to school activities and daily conversation
My six year old is heading to first grade, and we seem to be talking about it all day long. We started discussing the new things that first graders will be able experience, and do that he could not do last year as a kindergarten student. The discussion has led to excitement about taking field trips, kite day, and having his classroom located in a different part of the hallway at school. As we are discussing all these new milestones in my son’s life it is important to include my two year old daughter in the conversation. I believe that including the younger sibling in all the back to school activities will help the entire family.
Consistent bedtime and naptime schedule
Start with a consistent bedtime schedule. As ahead of time as possible have both children go to sleep and wake up at the same times for school days. The younger sibling may require naptime during the day, so keep that schedule as consistent as possible too. The older sibling will have to adjust to the transition from summertime to back to school. The first couple of weeks may present a challenge to both siblings, however by beginning the routine early it is possible to have a smooth adjustment period. Make sure the younger child understands what is going to happen and when. Talk about your daily schedule will be and what to expect. Introduce reading books at bedtime to both siblings. Your older sibling will learn more sight words to improve reading skills. The younger sibling will learn the basics of reading and reading comprehension.
School preparation for the younger sibling
The younger sibling will learn the basics of school preparation at an early age, gain a better understanding of the older siblings journey during the school year, and have the ability to develop early socialization skills. We found an old back pack and now include her when working on zipping and unzipping the new back pack for school. When we go shoe shopping, my younger child also will pick out a pair of new shoes. As you buy school supplies you may want to buy pencils, notebooks, crayons, and a few other supplies for the younger sibling. We travel to the location where the bus will pick up my son for the first day of school. We explain to my daughter that my son will take a yellow bus to school every morning, and she and I will come to pick him up every afternoon. This encourages my daughter to learn about the bus and who the bus driver is as my son goes to school. Don’t feel guilty about not having all the time you wish to include your younger child in back to school. The school year will allow for an abundance of learning for the younger sibling that will last a lifetime.
Visit the school and work one on one projects with the older sibling
Visit the school if siblings are invited to Open House, Back to School Bash, and Meet and Greet events, actually seeing the school can help the younger child as she pictures her sibling in the classroom. When the older sibling works on writing, Math, or Science projects, have the younger sibling work on water color or coloring projects. You can set out some of the similar items for my two year old daughter. I have my older son sit down with my younger daughter and teach “Head shoulders knees and toes,” which is one of my daughter’s favorite songs. We sing “Wheels on the bus,” together to get her more familiar with the idea of the school bus. The children work on coloring pictures, and building projects with Lego building blocks. The Lego building projects encourage cooperation, helping the younger sibling with her psychomotor skills, and learning her shapes and colors.
How are you including your younger child, as you send your student back to school?