By now your mailbox has been stuffed with Back-to-School fliers from all the local businesses. And you’ve seen the commercials on TV announcing discounts on everything from school supplies, back packs, and fall clothes. But just because the retailers are ready for Back-to-School, doesn’t mean that you (or your child) are feeling enthusiastic. Here are some suggestions to ease the transition and start your child off with a plan for a successful academic year.
- Involve your child in back-to-school shopping. Encourage your child to choose the items he likes including a backpack and school supplies. This serves as a reminder that the start of the school year is approaching. Your child may also be more likely to use supplies that he likes. Check with your child’s teacher for recommendations before heading out to purchase classroom supplies such as notebooks and binders but don’t hesitate to advocate for an organizational system that you know works best for your child.
- Visit your child’s school and classroom. If this is the first year your child will attend a school, take extra time to walk the halls and locate important rooms like the nurse’s office, the guidance counselor’s office, the cafeteria and the bathrooms. If your child has special needs, schedule a meeting with his teacher and support person before the start of the school year.
- Involve your child in establishing a quiet place to study and do homework. If your child will be returning to the same desk or study surface, begin by throwing away old or unnecessary supplies. Stock the desk with basic supplies, including paper, pens, pencils, and highlighters. This will reduce the likelihood of disruption once homework begins. Include ample light. Avoid locating the study area next to the TV or video games. It’s just too tempting.
- Utilize a month-at-a glance calendar such as a wall mounted dry erase board or a homework app or an electronic calendar to keep track of important dates such as tests, project due dates, and extracurricular activities. Any of these tools are a great way to assist in developing time management and organizational skills. Help your child to learn to transfer information from his daily agenda book to his calendar. Encourage your child to plan his week based on this calendar.
- Be sure that you and your child are familiar with and have access to any web services or apps that his teacher or school will be using to share assignments or communicate with students. This is a good time to review safe and appropriate use of electronics as well as establish rules for electronic-free times (ex. dinner time) and electronic-free zones (ex. the bedroom).
- Help your child to identify a place to store school notes and graded assignments as they return home. Consider using a plastic storage box with pendaflex folders for each subject. Younger children will benefit from reviewing their work and noting their accomplishments. Older children will need their notes to study for exams.
- Return to a consistent daily schedule, beginning with a healthy breakfast and a clearly established bedtime that will allow for a good nights rest. Create a bedtime routine that allows time to step away from high-energy activities and electronic devices.
- Maintain a healthy balance between academic and extracurricular activities. Avoid over scheduling. Include time for shared family activities (especially dinner) and physical exercise.
- Finally, talk with your child about the new school year. Ask about any concerns regarding the new grade level. Encourage your child to set his own goals for the new year, including academic, behavioral and social.