The twinkling lights are tucked away, the last of the holiday cookies have disappeared, and the new year has begun. As much fun as winter break can be, if we are being honest, most parents breathe a collective sigh of relief once the kids are back at school and daily routines resume. However, the post-break return to school can be filled with challenges for students of all ages. From kindergarteners struggling to wake up early again to high schoolers lacking motivation to study, the back-to-school whiplash is real!

But never fear, this post has collected wisdom from parents who have survived many a post-break school return. Follow these 5 simple tips to help your kids ease back into academic life after the long holiday break!

Tip #1: Create checklists and reminders for key tasks

With routines being a little out of whack from the break, setting simple steps can help students see everything that needs to get done without becoming overwhelmed. Make personalized checklists for essential tasks like packing backpacks, getting homework supplies ready, and laying out clothes for the morning. You can even use sticky notes to remind younger kids to practice handwashing and other health basics post-holidays!

Tip #2: Set expectations and rules for device usage and internet time

Coming off of two weeks of potentially unlimited screen time, kids may resist restrictions on gadget usage. Have an open discussion defining tech guidelines and allocate times that devices can and cannot be used each day. Since students may use tablet, chromebooks, and laptops to complete assignments, consider that for the first couple of days back, you may need to keep an eye on homework time to ensure they are not procrastinating.

Tip #3: Arrange bonding opportunities 

Once returning to school after break, students may miss the extra family time and connection that a freer schedule over school breaks allows. Ease their transition by planning dedicated opportunities for laughter and conversation such as preparing a dinner recipe together, planning activities together on the weekend, and using after-dinner walks to catch up in a device-free setting. 

Tip #4: Ask your kids open-ended questions

Instead of just interrogating your kids about their looming tests, projects and homework, show real interest by asking open-ended questions. What subjects do they enjoy most this year and why? What would help them be more organized? What classmate friendships do they appreciate? Let them share freely about their perspective so far.

Tip #5: Help make a schedule for after school activities 

From sports team practices to music lessons, children’s schedules ramp back up rapidly after winter break. Post a calendar your child can view listing their commitments. Check in with them as they readjust to limited relaxation time and earlier bedtimes. For your older students, you can let them be in the driver’s seat of their schedule, but offer guidance in creating a schedule to tackle homework amidst other activities.

With preparation, understanding, and a little creativity, parents can set their children up for success heading back to the grind of classes and schedule cramming. Stay positive, provide structure, take an interest in their world, and everyone will gradually get back into the swing of the school routine! Here’s to a productive and peaceful remainder of the academic year.