Yes, school will be back in session soon. Is your child ready to succeed? Are you ready to help?
It’s a fact: Parents who play an active role in their children’s education make a huge difference in their success. The degree of adjustment depends on the child, but parents can help their children (and the rest of the family) manage the increased pace of life by planning ahead, being realistic, and maintaining a positive attitude. Here are a few suggestions to help ease the transition and promote a successful school experience.
• Ease into the routine: Switching from a summer schedule to a school schedule can be stressful to everyone in the household. Plan to re-establish the bedtime and mealtime routines (especially breakfast) at least 1 week before school starts. Prepare your child for this change by talking with them about the benefits of school routines in terms of not becoming over tired or overwhelmed by their school work and activities. Include pre-bedtime reading and household chores if these were suspended during the summer.
• Avoid first-day-of-school mayhem: Practice your morning routine a few days in advance. Set the alarm clock, go through your morning rituals, and get in the car or to the bus stop on time. Routines help children feel comfortable, and establishing a solid school routine will make the first day of school go much smoother.
• Set alarm clocks: Have school-age children set their own alarm clocks to get up in the morning. Praise them for prompt response to morning schedules and bus pickups.
• Leave plenty of extra time: Make sure your child has plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast, and get to school.
• Turn off the TV: Encourage your child to play quiet games, do puzzles, flash cards, color, or read for their early morning activities instead of watching television. This will help ease them into the learning process and school schedule. If possible, maintain this practice throughout the school year.
• Provide healthy meals: Hungry kids can’t concentrate on learning, so good nutrition plays an important role in your child’s school performance. Studies show that children who eat healthy, balanced breakfasts and lunches do better in school. Fix nutritious meals at home, and if you need extra help, find out if your family qualifies for any Funded Nutrition Programs at school.
• Anxiety: If the first few days are a little rough and your child shows signs of anxiety; let your children know you care. Do not overreact. Young children, in particular, may experience separation anxiety or shyness initially but teachers are trained to help them adjust. If you drop them off, try not to linger. Reassure them that you love them, will think of them during the day, and will be back. Reinforce the ability to cope. Children absorb their parent’s anxiety, so model optimism and confidence for your child.
• Select a spot to keep backpacks and lunch boxes: Designate a spot for your children to place their school belongings as well as a place to put important notices and information sent home for you to see.
• After school: Review your child’s schoolbooks and work. Talk about what your child will be learning during the year. Share your enthusiasm for their school subjects and your confidence in their ability to master the content.
• Designate and clear a place to do homework: Older children should have the option of studying in their room or a quiet area of the house. Younger children usually need an area set aside in the family room or kitchen to facilitate adult monitoring, supervision, and encouragement.
• Clear your own schedule: To the extent possible, postpone business trips, volunteer meetings, and extra projects. You want to be free to help your child acclimate to the school routine and overcome the confusion or anxiety that many children experience at the start of a new school year.
• Read Together: Take the pledge to read with your child for 20 minutes every day. Your example reinforces the importance of literacy, and reading lets you and your child explore new worlds of fun and adventure together.
• Familiarize yourself with the other school professionals: Make an effort to find out who in the school or district can be a resource for you and your child. Learn their roles and how best to access their help if you need them. This can include the principal and front office personnel; school psychologist, counselor, and social worker; the reading specialist, speech therapist, and school nurse; and the after-school activities coordinator.
Whether your child is a first timer or an old hand, I hope this blog will help to make this back to school season successful and the best ever for you. If you have any tricks or tips that you would love to share with other parents please share them in the comment section below, or on our facebook page. Thank you and have a wonderful school year.
Clark, L. (1996). SOS: Help for parents (2nd ed.). Berkley, CA: Parents’ Press. ISBN: 0935111204.
Dawson, M. P. (2004). Homework: A guide for parents. In A. Canter, L. Paige, M. Roth, I. Romero, & S. Carroll (Eds.), Helping children at home and school II: Handouts for families and educators. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.
Rimm, S. (1996). Dr. Sylvia Rimm’s smart parenting: How to raise a happy, achieving child. New York: Crown. ASIN: 0517700638.
National Association of School Psychologists— www.nasponline.org
Parent Information Center— www.parentinformationcenter.org
National School Lunch Program. - http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Back-to-School.shtm