Welcome back to the start of another school year! I hope all of our Cypress Park families had a wonderful, relaxing, and quiet summer.  The wonderful and relaxing probably goes without saying, and I’ll explain the quiet a little later on.

I love September! As a teacher, it’s one of my favourite times of the year. I love knowing that it’s the beginning, the start of something new. I love the energy and excitement our schools have – not only from our teachers, eager to begin a new year, but also from our students, who are excited to reconnect with friends, and perhaps even get back into a routine.

This year I am coming back more rested and refreshed than I ever remember feeling. I have a renewed appreciation for time spent with my family and for this beautiful place in which we live. I have had some pretty epic summer adventures in the past that have taken me traveling through Europe, to Costa Rica, and road tripping across Canada. This year though, I stayed pretty close to home. Here is the Coles notes version:

Summer began with some much needed family time at the cabin on the Sunshine Coast. Cousins playing together on the beach: fishing, crabbing, scavenging for treasures, painting, and creating some of the most wonderful, lifelong memories. I ran, hiked, swam, read, and slept in! It was the perfect way to melt into summer. Not to mention, the weather was perfect… hot and sunny summer days!

Then we were home for a couple weeks. Just enough time to go to the beach, do our weekly Summer Reading Club check-ins, and make some delicious blackberry jam!

We enjoyed spending the long weekend in Whistler, biking, swimming, and farmer’s marketing. This was an exciting milestone for the Evans family, as not only were my kids (finally) confident enough to bike the trails, but they were also excited to as well!

When friends from out of town visited, we enjoying taking them to Grouse Mountain for the day. While the bears and the lumberjack show are always a must, this time we also tried out the new ropes course. Needless to say, it was a hit with all the kids and we highly recommend it next time you visit the mountain!

Our final adventure was heading off to Vancouver Island. I’m a little bit embarrassed to say this was my kids first trip there! We enjoyed exploring downtown Victoria, including the Royal BC Museum and the Legislature. We then drove up island and spent the weekend with friends at their family place in Cobble Hill. Highlights included early morning paddle boarding, swimming in the quarry, a visit to Unsworth winery, and much needed time with good friends!

As you can see, my summer was truly wonderful and relaxing, and although we did lots of adventuring, it was also wonderfully quiet; quiet in the sense of being unscheduled and spontaneous. Admittedly, family life can be pretty hectic during the school year. It feels like we’re always rushing to or from an activity. But this summer we just were.

However, I’m ready to get back to it. I miss our Cypress Park community. I miss the students, I miss the staff, and I miss the families. As we transition back into the fall and the routines of school, here are my Top 5 Tips for starting the school year off on the right foot:

  • Return to Routines

One of the most important things you can do for your child is to establish routines. Predictable routines allow children to feel safe and help to foster independence. Consider what routines your family has… maybe it’s waking up at a scheduled time, laying out clothes for the next day, or getting back to a regular bedtime. Begin to practise these routines over the next week to help your child, and you, be ready for September!

  • Sleep!

Perhaps the most important routine is getting to sleep! Did you know that kids aged 3-6 need 11 to 13 hours of sleep each night, and kids aged 7-10 need 10 to 11 hours? Getting a good night’s sleep can have positive effect on your child’s health, as well as their behaviour. Research shows that some of the benefits of adequate sleep are: better brain development (improved memory and concentration); better bodies (improved energy, stronger heart, weight management); better emotions (happier, more optimistic, fewer meltdowns).

  • Eat well

Healthy eating is a foundation for kids having the right energy to get them through the day. Returning to school is exhausting, but a well-balanced lunch with healthy snacks will help to keep them going. Encourage your child to be part of the process; work together to pack lunch and snacks. And remember to drink lots of water during the day. Packing a water bottle will help with this!

  • Limit screen time

Over the past few weeks, we have undergone “device detox” in our house. My kids are like zombies when given the iPad to play with, or when watching TV. When asked to turn it off, there is usually whining and begging for “just a few more minutes!” But when they don’t have their devices, they return to being kind, little humans. Sure there are moments of “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do,” but soon enough, they find themselves engaged in creative, free play. Screen time has adverse effects on children’s ability to sleep and self-regulate. Limiting not only the amount of time your child is in front of a screen, but also when they are using the screen is important. Take time to cuddle and read together before bed. It’s my favourite time of day!

  • Physical Activity

Ensure your child continues to participate in physical activities. This could be riding their bike around the block, running around the playground after school, or going for a walk through the neighbourhood after dinner. Join in with them! Whatever activity you choose, encourage your child to get at least 30 mins of exercise where their heart is pumping and they are working up a sweat!

I can’t wait to see you all back on September 3rd (and September 4th for our new Kindergarten families)! I am excited to hear about your summer adventures! Enjoy the last little bit of summer… and remember to start practising your routines!