Even kids who are bored with having “nothing to do” over summer vacation often dread returning to the grind and performance expectations of the schoolroom. Fortunately, there are things parents can do to help replace some of the dread with pleasant anticipation.
If your children have favorite classmates they’ve been out of touch with during the summer, send those classmates emails or even snail-mail letters about how they’re looking forward to getting back together. Reminisce about last year’s good times and suggest things to do together during the new school year. You might even create a round-robin letter (“Add a few lines and forward this to the next person on the list”), or host a get-reacquainted party the week before classes start.
Include at least a few things on your “supplies” list that your kids really enjoy shopping for, whether new clothes, fancy binders, or cute key ring attachments. Let the kids choose the specific items themselves (you can even slip in a math lesson by giving them an official budget). Have lunch at a special restaurant as part of this outing.
If the school your kids will be attending is within walking distance, let them draw and decorate a map of the route—or experiment with walking some alternate routes. If they’ll be going by bus or car, take a ride there together (perhaps even by public-transportation bus) and have an en-route scavenger hunt to spot red buildings, cat pictures, or anything else you like. These games are fun even if the kids are going to the same school for the sixth year in a row, as there are always new things to find in familiar places.
Include questions that will refresh your kids’ memories about academic things they’ll need to know in the new school year—but also include questions about schools and education in general, plus a few “just for fun” items (“Why do pencils have erasers on one end? … They couldn’t have erasers on both ends: that would be pointless!”).
Play your kids’ favorite recess games together every day, for a week or two before school opens. Or visit the scene of their favorite field trip from last year—or, to build even more anticipation, visit some place where they’ll be taking a field trip in the coming year!