Here are some great tips for getting your kids back into school-and-learning mode!
To ensure your child will have a comfortable place to focus this upcoming school year, clean off an area—desk, counter space, table, etc.— and designate it as your child’s study space. Make sure to choose an area that is free of distractions, away from T.V., music, and other members of your family. Kitchens can sometimes be difficult places to study considering the conversations taking place with and around your child, as well as the clang and clatter of cooking.
If your child has a wonderful study area but is still having trouble with certain subjects, be sure to take them to the Carnegie Center for Homework Help, and to tell your child’s tutor. His tutor can help him grasp the subject he is struggling with as well as strengthen your child’s study skills.
Get your kids back on an early bed schedule well before school starts. Most kids begin staying up late in the summer months. But kids need 9 1/2 to 11 hours of sleep a night, depending on their age. (Teens need a minimum of 9.5; toddlers usually do best with 11). Getting them back on schedule so they’re sound asleep by 9pm to be up at 7am for school takes a couple of weeks of gradually moving the bedtime earlier.
Imposing an early bedtime cold turkey the night before school starts results in a child who simply isn’t ready for an earlier bedtime, having slept in that morning and with the night-before-school jitters. In that situation, you can expect everyone’s anxiety to escalate. So keep an eye on the calendar and start moving bedtime a bit earlier every night by having kids read in bed for an hour before lights out, which is also good for their reading skills.
And be sure to get yourself to bed early too! The first day of school requires a good deal of preparation on your part—getting kids cleaned and dressed, and lunches and backpacks packed—and, because a new school year is a big change for your little one, it is almost necessary to arrive at the school a few minutes early to help your child adjust.
Preview the Day
Be alert for signs that your child is worried, and reflect that most kids are a little nervous before the first day of school, but that he will feel right at home in his new classroom soon.
Take advantage of orientation opportunities to familiarize your children with the school and promote bonding between your children and their new teachers.
“Every child thrives on routine, especially younger children and children with special needs,” Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, Tex., spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and author of “Baby 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Baby’s First Year,” noted. She advised parents to check with the teacher to determine a typical day’s schedule, then review it with the child: when the school day starts, meal and snack times, free play and story time, etc., as well as where the parents will be during school hours.
This helps children feel more secure and better handle transitions. “Perhaps the parents can create a little storybook that depicts the child’s day in school,” Dr. Brown suggested.
The day before school starts, talk about exactly what will happen the next day to give your child a comfortable mental movie:
“We’ll get up early tomorrow for your first day in Ms. Williams’ class. We will drive there together and I will take you into her classroom and introduce you to her. She will make sure you know all the other kids, because they will be your new friends. I will read a book to you and then we will hug and say our special goodbye. Then Ms. Williams will take you to the block corner so you can build a tower. Ms. Williams will show you where the bathroom is, and you can ask her anytime you need to go. There will be games and books and blocks, and she will read to the class. You will get to have fun on the playground with the other kids, and you will get to sit at a desk like the big kids. And at the end of the day, Ms. Williams will bring you to me on the school steps, and I will be there to pick you up and hear all about your first day at school.”
Also, be sure to practice saying goodbye.
Academically Prepare Your Child
Wake up your child’s brain. Be your child’s tutor for the days leading up to the new school year and the beginning of year-long tutoring. Take a trip over to the Carnegie Center for a good book or to use the tutoring room!
Make time for your child after school. Share a snack with her (to boost her blood sugar levels back up to normal), and ask her questions about her day—what she is learning, her friend status, the dish on her classmates, etc. Set aside this time during the afternoon to comfort your child and ease them into the school routine.
For more back-to-school tips check out these great resources:
-Laura Zolman, Summer Tutoring Intern