Is your kid absolutely thrilled to go back to school? Well, great. Then you don’t need to read this article. But if they’re not, you do. Getting your kid enthused about school can be tough after a summer of lazing by the lake, shimmying up trees, or collecting slimy new pets from a nearby pond. Yet it can be done with ease and grace if you simply put a strategic system in place.
For any of these systems to work, you first need to properly prepare your child with the right back-to-school accoutrements. They are:
Back-to-school supplies: Let your kid select a fun array of pencils, pens, markers, crayons, electronic gadgets and whatever else they may need to make the most of their learning. Don’t forget a brand-new water bottle and backpack.
Back-to-school clothes: Go for kids' sun protection clothing that is lightweight, comfy and fun to wear. Long-sleeve sun protection shirts are prefect for fall weather, while moisture-wicking long-sleeve shirts keep kids even more comfortable when engaging in outdoor activities at school. Your kids will be stylish and cool while still getting the necessary skin protection for recess, after-school activities, and impromptu trips to the park.
Healthy foods and snacks: Pack their lunch with good-for-you yummies. Make after-school snacks a tasty and healthy treat.
Now that the foundation is set, it’s time to choose the system that is likely to work best for you and your child.
The I-Believe-in-You System
If your child doubles as an angel on earth, you don’t need much of a strategy to get them excited about a new school year. Simply tell them it’s thrilling to go back to school. All angels will agree.
This method works best for kids who have never:
- Drawn in red crayon on the wall
- Thrown a tantrum in the grocery store candy aisle
- Needed to be asked to brush their teeth each night (they do it automatically)
Although your child will have a cache of supplies, clothing and food before the school year starts, you can keep adding to their stash as they continue to behave in the most angelic ways.
- Fudge brownies as a special school lunch dessert
- An extra hour of screen time on the weekend
- A bonus sun gaiter to go with their collection of sun protection hoodies and shirts
The Barter System
The back-to-school barter system involves a trade. Your kid does something for you, and you do something for them—and so on. All bartering is above the table, with each party knowing exactly what they’ll get in return for what they give.
The barter system works best for kids who may have:
- Made “freckles” on their face with a fat purple marker
- Thought it was a good idea to “clean” the bathtub with three containers of talcum powder
- Occasionally said they brushed their teeth before bed when they really didn’t
What your child is doing for you is going back to school with glee (or at least without a hassle). What you do for them in return can vary, depending on specific scenarios.
- If they go back to school gleefully for the first month, you take them to the park every Friday.
- If they get up on time every Monday, you let them pick their favorite dinner every Wednesday.
- If they do their homework daily before dinner, you get them a sun protection shirt featuring a flamingo, lifeguard dog or jelly pineapple.
The Surprise Reward System
The surprise reward system can be used as an add-on to other systems for extra credit. It involves giving your child random rewards as they continue to be on time, conscientious and downright thrilled about going back to school.
While the reward timing and items remain a surprise, you can certainly let them know that this system is going to start on the first day of school. Your child will then be prompted to at least act like they’re happy to return, knowing it will build credit toward a possible surprise reward to come.
The surprise reward system works best for kids who:
- Pretend to have pink eye on the day of a math test
- Try to feed their broccoli to the dog when they think no one’s looking
- Need a little more encouragement than the barter system or I-believe-in-you system may provide on its own
Surprise rewards can include:
- A few more kids’ long-sleeve sun protection shirts, picking up the colors and styles they have yet to enjoy
- Socks with soccer balls, dinosaurs, or kittens
- An extra outing to their favorite hiking trail or bike path
The Consequences System
Yeah, we know. The word “punishment” can conjure terrible thoughts of being locked in a dungeon with no food and water for 22 years. We’re not talking about anything that drastic—or involve building a dungeon in the basement.
We’re talking about a small inconvenience or consequence. And you’re only going to use it if they really go out of their way to make going back to school a nightmare.
It also needs to be a consequence that’s big enough to matter, but not big enough to leave them yelling, “I hate you,” in front of the school.
This system works best for kids who regularly:
- Drew in red crayon on the wall
- Threw tantrums in the grocery store candy aisle, the drug store shampoo aisle, and pretty much anywhere else they could draw a crowd
- Put their sister’s toothbrush in the toilet
If your child refuses to get up on time, do their homework, or otherwise makes back-to-school less than a thrill, consequences can include:
- No fudge brownies for a week
- Decreasing their daily screen time from three hours to two
- Picking out YOUR favorite sun protection shirts instead of letting them select their favorites
So there you have it. A two-step plan that promises back-to-school success. First prep your child with the items they need, then pick a system that works. Feel free to mix and match the systems as desired to adapt to any given attitude. And make sure you keep the cool and comfy kids' long-sleeve sun protection shirts as part of the mix.
Happy First Day of School!