Easing in to Back-to-School

Arts and Education, Featured Article, Growth and Development
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As the dog days of summer come to an end, the attention always turns to the start of the school year. We have the 10 top tips every parent needs to ensure the transition from summer to school is as easy and seamless as possible.

1. Attend orientation. It’s worth it, says Gloria Julius, Ed.D., Vice President of Education and Professional Development at Primrose Schools, with more than 280 schools across the country. “Orientation is perhaps the most important way to calm your child’s—and even your own—nerves.” Schools host orientations (sometimes called “open house”) that allow you and your student to meet the teachers, walk the building and get your questions answered before the first day of school. It definitely makes the first day more relaxed when your child knows where they’re going and sees some familiar new faces.

2. Extend the classroom at home. You are your child’s first teacher, and Julius says parents shouldn’t hesitate to ask a child’s teacher for specific activity ideas that help reinforce learning at home and make him feel more comfortable with the same types of activities in the classroom.

3. Set a bedtime time. Begin adjusting bedtime at least two weeks before classes begin, says Raena Janes, mom of twins and founder and director of La Paloma Academy (K-8), Southern Arizona’s largest and fastest-growing charter school system. You can gradually send kids to bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier every few nights to transition them to “school night” bed time. Then on the last couple of nights before school starts, the whole family should go to bed early, says Janes.

“When practicing to wake up early, take them out to a restaurant for breakfast to help make it a fun experience,” adds Janes.

4. Put the electronics to bed, too. Janes says the light from tablets, laptops, etc., sends signals to your child’s body to stay awake. “It’s a great idea to set concrete ‘bedtime’ for screens—the time when all screens are shut off for the night—to prevent any negative impact electronics have on sleep.”

5. Have the kids create a calendar. Work with your kids to add after-school activities to a calendar (virtual or physical) to help them imagine what their days will look like,” says Stephanie Katleman, founder of The M.O.M. Method time and task management tool for kids ages 6 to 12. “This can help them make the mental shift back to school. The earlier your kids start learning about calendaring, the more independent they will become and the less you’ll have to do for them.”

6. Teach kids to plan. Leaving the house (on time and prepared) for an activity requires planning. Does your child need to wear a uniform? Bring equipment? What time does she need to start getting ready so you can leave on time? Post a check-off list including what she needs to do and what time to get started in order to leave on time.

7. Make sure your child is fit and healthy. Before school starts schedule an appointment with your kids’ doctor and dentist to make sure they are physically fit. And make copies of all health and emergency information to share with your child’s school, says Janes.

8. Set meal times. Sure it sounds like a throw-back to households of the 1960s, but setting regular meal times for the entire family (like 7 a.m. is breakfast time) will not only help your kids become more aware of time and manage that time, but it also increases the chance to spend time together as a family.

9. Designate a study zone. It’s great to buy school supplies in advance, but take it to the next level by setting up your kids’ study area. Determine what and where papers go that come home from school. What spot in your house is the most conducive to reading, studying, etc.? And where should your child place papers and notes requiring your attention (permission slips, book orders, etc.)?

10. Let them voice anxiety about going back to school. Spend time with each of your children individually to talk about what you expect of them and to hear what the child is looking forward to (or not), says Janes. Give your children the opportunity to voice their fears about going back to school, whether it’s a new teacher’s expectations, new rules or perhaps a new school. Once they’ve shared their concerns, work with them to brainstorm solutions so they don’t dread the first day.

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