Back-to-School Checklist – Rhythm, Ritual and Rest

Swing High

Today we’re going to finish our ‘back-to-school checklist’. We’ve already looked at ‘next right steps‘ and ‘celebration‘, and today we’re moving on to Rhythm, Ritual and Rest.

There’s a lot of ‘new’ to back-to-school. New clothes, new shoes, new teachers, new peers, sometimes new schools or new subjects or new expectations. And whenever we’re doing lots of ‘new’ things, it’s important that those around us recognize that all of this new takes time and emotional effort. And one of the easiest ways to do that is with rhythm, ritual and rest.

Rhythm is found in breathing and in movement.

It’s found in dancing and singing. It’s found in stretching and yoga. It’s found in running and swinging and climbing on the jungle gym. Rhythm helps us calm our minds and settle ourselves to be able to focus. So it’s a great idea to incorporate rhythm into both your before-school and before-homework times of the day.

Maybe that means putting on some great dancing music at home as you’re getting breakfast in the morning. Or perhaps it means leaving a little early for school so that you can walk or bike to school, or play at the park on the way. Maybe it’s taking time to do some basic yoga together at the end of the school day to help calm down, or singing your hearts out together while washing the dinner dishes before you settle down to do homework together.

Rhythm can be very particular to the person, but all of us need it, regardless of our abilities or disabilities.

Ritual is about predictability.

Ritual helps us build resilience, because we can remember that we’ve done this exact thing before – and survived – so we can do it again. Ritual comes in the form of morning and after school routines. It comes in the form of predictable caregivers. In some homes it comes in the form of ‘taco Tuesdays’ or other food-related predictability. In many homes it comes in the form of a distinct bedtime or morning wake-up routine. Some people even find that a Visual Schedule like this one can be helpful to give their children a better idea of where they’re at in their routine:

Aidan's Daily Routine Chart

Regardless of the how, back-to-school is a great time to reflect on and review the rituals you have in place for your child, and see whether there is any way that you could make things more predictable.

We can only learn as well as we REST.

Just like it’s difficult to use a wet sponge to soak up water on the counter, it’s difficult for a tired brain to learn. If we want our kids to go to school and learn well, we need to make sure that they have time to rest.

Sleep is obviously hugely important. Making sure our kids get enough sleep, and get that sleep within a regular, predictable routine, is really important. You’ll know your kids are getting enough sleep if they’re easy to wake up in the morning, or are waking up just before you come in to check on them in the morning. If your child is struggling to wake up in the morning, it may mean that they’re going to bed too late, or that they’re struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep well. Sometimes the issue is obvious, and a little tweak will take care of it, but if you’re stumped on why they’re not getting enough sleep, it’s really important to go and speak to your family doctor or paediatrician to help your child get the rest that they need.

But although sleep is important, rest goes beyond simply sleep. Rest includes screen-free downtime – to think or draw or create or imagine. It includes time hanging upside down from the monkey bars or spinning idly on the tire swing. Rest includes time alone and time with friends. It includes family games and walks in the woods and creative activities. Rest might include staring at the stars or cuddling together and reading a good book.

The key to REST is that it rejuvenates, restores and renews us, giving us the capacity to go out there and try again.

Rhthym – Ritual – Rest – Ready to Go!

Back to school often requires some negotiation to help it to go as well as possible. But with rhythm, ritual and rest on your side, you will power your school year with love!

Want to talk more about strategies to help your kids with the transition back to school? I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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