It’s almost that time of year again. Yes, in just a few weeks school will be back in session. Starting the new school year can be a time of great excitement… and anxiety, for students as well as parents. Now is a good time to answer two very important questions: 1) Is your child ready to succeed? 2) 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 children’s success. Here are some teacher-approved tips that can help you and your child prepare for the upcoming school year:
Meet the New Teacher
For kids, one of the biggest back-to-school fears is, “Will I like my new teacher?” Breaking the ice early on is one of the best ways to calm everyone’s fears.
If your school hosts an open house or back-to-school night before the first day of school, take advantage of the opportunity to start building a personal connection. Some teachers welcome phone calls or e-mails, so try contacting your child’s teachers at the start of the school year. Get acquainted with them and let them know you want to be an active partner in helping your child to learn and grow.
If personal contact with the teacher isn’t possible, try locating the teacher’s picture on a school website or in a yearbook, so your child can put a name with a face. If your child’s teacher sends a welcome letter, be sure to read the letter together.
Tour the School
Attending your school’s open house allows you and your child to get to know not only the teachers, but the building, as well. Familiarizing your child with her environment will help her avoid a nervous stomach on the first day. Together you can meet her teacher, find her desk, and explore the playground.
With an older child, you might ask him to give you a tour of the school. This will help refresh his memory and yours.
Connect with Friends
A familiar face can make all the difference when heading back to school. You might try calling parents from last year’s class and finding out which children are in your child’s class this year. Refresh these relationships before school starts by scheduling a play date or a school carpool.
Obtain the class supply list and take a special shopping trip with your child. Having the right tools will help him feel prepared. While keeping basic needs in mind, allow for a couple of splurges like a cool notebook or a favorite-colored pen. These simple pleasures make going back to school a lot more fun.
School supply lists also provide great insight into the schoolwork ahead. Get your child excited about upcoming projects by explaining how new supplies might be used. Let him practice using supplies that he’s not used before – such as colored pencils or a protractor – so he will be comfortable using them in class.
Avoid Last-Minute Drilling
While it is important to support learning throughout the summer, don’t spend the last weeks of summer vacation reviewing last year’s curriculum. All kids need some down time before the rigors of school begin. For some kids, last-minute drills can heighten anxiety, reminding them of what they’ve forgotten instead of what they remember.
Ease Into the Routine
Switching from a summer to a school schedule can be stressful for everyone in the household. Avoid first-day-of-school mayhem by practicing your 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.
Get the Children to Bed on Time
During the summer, children aren’t always on a schedule. Proper rest is essential for a healthy and productive school year, so help your child get used to the back-to-school routine by starting the transition now to earlier wake-up times and bedtimes.
Most of all, whether it’s the first day of school or the last, make sure your kids know you’re there to listen to their feelings and concerns, and that you don’t expect perfection – only that they try their best!