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Back to School Guide for Families

A back to school guide for administrators and staff

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This Back to School Guide provides five weeks of activities that focus on building a connection between the school and families at the start of a new school year. It also provides ways families can develop a supportive home environment. Share these activities in weekly communications with families, letting them know their students are working on the same topics in school. Additionally, create a system for families to provide feedback and express their needs.

We encourage educators and administrators to adapt the activities, considering what is culturally responsive, to ensure they meet the needs and contexts of families.

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Week One: Setting the Foundation

This week focuses on building routines. These activities will help families create healthy, at-home routines for the start of a new school year.

  • As this new school year begins, you may be experiencing some stressful changes. However, practicing healthy routines can help your family feel calmer and more confident. Use this handy Healthy Day Checklist to remind your family to practice small, healthy habits daily, such as getting regular physical activity and eating well.
  • Going back to school can mean changes to your family’s sleep routines. This Snooze To-Do's Checklist will help your family develop healthy sleep habits that will have everyone at their best.
  • A new school year provides an opportunity for setting goals and envisioning a positive year ahead. Use this resource to create vision boards as a family.

Week Two: Building Relationships

This week focuses on building strong relationships. These fun activities will help you slow down and connect as a family.

  • Use mealtimes to connect and share daily conversations as a family. Our Making the Most of Mealtimes resource provides tips on how to use this time to positively impact your family’s well-being.
  • Expressing gratitude is both a powerful way to show someone you care and boost your own well-being. This short video includes ideas for expressing gratitude to your loved ones.
  • Engaging with nature, even indoors, can relieve stress and deepen your connectedness with others. Explore this Nature-based BINGO card for fun family activities, such as planting a small indoor garden and finding shapes in the clouds.
  • These 20 Family Bonding Activities are designed to be fun and build connection. Try them any day or night of the week.

Week Three: Exploring Emotions

This week focuses on identifying and understanding our emotions. Emotions can be complicated and processing them can be difficult, especially as new challenges arise. This set of activities will help you take time to explore together.

  • Mindfulness exercises are a great way to practice being present as well as notice what is happening within and outside of ourselves. Watch this short mindfulness video and try out some of the suggestions as a family.
  • Hang this Feelings Chart in a central location so family members can use it to express how they are feeling each day.

Week Four: Advocating for Your Needs

This week focuses on advocating for your needs. After you have identified and processed your emotions, take time this week to explore how to express and address your needs as a family.

  • It is important to establish personal space to relax. Create calming locations in your home that you can retreat to when necessary – they don’t have to be huge, even a cozy corner with your favorite books and a candle will do. Work together to set ground rules for using the spaces. Check out this video to learn more.
  • Adults who care for children may not consider their own needs. These psychology-backed strategies will help you practice self-care.
  • As a family, brainstorm a “feel good plan” of simple ways you can de-stress, such as calling a friend, taking some deep breaths or doing some light stretching. Write your ideas on popsicle sticks or slips of paper and pull one out whenever it’s needed!

Week Five: Recalibrating

This week focuses on reflecting. It is important to pause periodically and consider whether your daily routines are beneficial to everyone. It is helpful to discuss as a family what is and is not working.

  • Family meetings can be a great way to ensure everyone is on the same page. This Family Agreements template will help your family have productive and positive discussions.
  • Check in with your students to see if they are having a positive school experience and if any adjustments to your school routine are needed. If there are issues, problem-solve together and make sure to share any needs with school staff.
  • Try these simple ideas to foster social-emotional skills at home.

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