When the Newness of the School Year Has Worn Off

New teachers, backpacks and supplies get us all geared up for a new school year but what happens when a month has passed and the newness has worn off?

It is common to see an increase in negative behaviors from your child when the pencils have started to dull, and the routine has become predictable. You may see an increase in unwillingness to go to school and a decreased interest in learning activities after school or on the weekends. These behaviors can create a hostile home environment and a negative association with school.

It’s time to add in some fresh strategies to the school day routine to keep them engaged. It is important to also be in contact with your child’s teacher to see if they are also having bad behavior in the classroom.

Here are a few ideas to keep your little one wanting to go back to school all year. 

Make a Weekly Goal

Incorporate a weekly goal that is easily attainable and is rewarded on Friday. The goal is something that may seem simple, but is currently a very difficult task. For example:

  • Getting out of the car without a fight in the drop off line 4 out of 5 days that week (when you know 5 out of 5 is unrealistic)
  • Getting dressed for school with only two prompts 
  • 15 minutes of reading at bedtime

The reward should be decided upon mutually like extra iPad time, a family bike ride or a slushy trip. Changing the goal weekly will keep them engaged to meet that goal. You can make a list of desirable rewards, put them in a jar and let your child draw out a reward Monday morning before the week starts. 

If the weekly goal doesn’t help engage your child and you are still having issues, contact the school and set up a drop off plan with your school administrators. I promise you are not the only ones! There may be a special task that their teacher can give them or someone who can help escort them to their class.

Create a Car Line Playlist

Does your child like music and dislikes waiting in the drop-off line? Create a pick-up/drop-off playlist together. It can be a fun change to the morning routine and adds in some sing-a-long time while you wait. If they aren’t a music fan, there are also children’s podcasts that play short stories you can listen to in the car. 

Show Your Pride

When you pick up from school and open the backpack full of assignments, overly express how proud of them you are of their schoolwork. Slyly say, “I wonder what this sheet is about?” and they may open up about their day. If there is an art project, frame it or put it on the fridge so they can see how proud you are. 

Ease Into a New Teacher

The transition to a new teacher can be difficult and once they have a grasp on their new teacher they may regress and desire their old teacher. Contact the school and see if they can arrange a special meeting with their previous teacher to work out some jitters. They can write them a letter or draw a picture to deliver to them to help ease the transition. Encouraging and praising your child for their flexibility and bravery in having a new teacher is important. Your child will recognize we, as parents, know that the transition is difficult for them.

I personally have a child who requires a lot of affirmation and praise and we have art projects all over the house. She also requires weekly fresh strategies throughout the school year to stay engaged. Some strategies may work for a week or two then we have to reinvent the wheel again and again. We swap out our fidgets for class, rotate what parent drives and implement a reward system. 

Healthy and fun routines at a young age will create a positive relationship with school that will hopefully carry on as your child grows up and develops their own drive to want to go to school. 

Emily Gafford
I am a mom of two girls, 4 & 6 and a baby boy who arrived in June as well as our fur-baby, Walter. I've been married to my southern raised, patient and silly husband for 8 years. Born and raised in Kansas City, I am naturally an avid Chiefs fan. I am the Director of E-Commerce & Retail at J. Rieger & Co. distillery and thoroughly enjoy being a full time-working mom. I am an open book and hope that my real stories of what works for our family and the raw emotions that come with each of life's curve balls helps guide other families along their journey. Being a Mom of two wildly active girls, one whose spirit needs some extra attention, I am currently navigating child advocacy and support for parents who lean on professional resources for children with behavioral disorders. I love getting lost in the kitchen or a book, going on walks and spending time with friends & family.