School is already starting for kids across North America. As families readjust their schedules and their psyches, teachers and "dads who have been there," can offer practical advice that will ease the transition. Jack Forman, Drew Holloway and Korum Bischoff — the Seattle-based rockers known as Recess Monkey — are parents to six kids altogether. They were teachers first, and their years as educators give them unique insights as to what works for elementary school-age kids. Here's what they recommend:
1. Bedtime: sleep early and often
Not sure about you, but bedtimes are the first thing to go at our houses. We try to dial them back slowly a week or two out rather than one last-ditch take-off-the-band-aid time change. Keep in mind a year has passed since the last time you did this!
2. Promote your child to Head Chef
In preparation for the first day, we all independently started bringing our kids into the lunch-making process. It's empowering, exciting, and may lead to lunches that are actually eaten.
3. Scan the class list for pre-first-day play
Once the backpack is in the cubby, the next thing your child will look for is the eye contact of a familiar friend. If your child is returning to the same school, sit down with them and proactively plan a get-together with a few different people, one on one. It's a time commitment but absolutely worth it in the low-stress payoff of walking into a new classroom full of familiar faces. If it's a new school for your family, definitely take advantage of any pre-first day social mixers, and brainstorm with your child in advance about how to connect with new friends. Remember, meeting people is actually a skill, one that comes easily for some kids, but that most kids need to be taught.
4. Plan a child-centric "Lucky day! "
Plan a day, maybe the day before school starts if possible, where your child gets to call the shots: Lucky Day! Maybe it's a trip to the movies followed by a dinner at their favorite restaurant, maybe ice cream for breakfast — a fun filled day that culminates the family summer on an extremely high note.
5. Your feelings are a big part, too
Kids are extremely observant when it comes to the emotional state of the adults around them, and will absolutely pick up on how you're dealing with the new school year. Talk to other adults to process how you are feeling about it, and get yourself to the point where you believe in your child fully, but also acknowledge that this transition they're about to make is critical to their growing up. It's sad and beautiful: this is their time. Cheerlead them in every way that you can, and know in advance that this may be harder on you than them. Don't bog them down with that part; they'll be parents one day and can see this beautiful transition unfold from your perspective. Watch them run into the classroom smiling ear to ear, then cry only once you get back to the car.
Editor's note: These tips were reprinted with permission of the band Recess Monkey. Find more about Recess Monkey and their upcoming performances at recessmonkeytown.