After a long summer, parents are probably a bit apprehensive – and likely relieved – their children are soon headed back to school.
Such a time can bring stress for both parents and children. However, there are ways to reduce that stress during the first week of school and – indeed – throughout the rest of the school year.
Here are some tips for ensuring a happy, productive school year:
• Make sure children have a nutritious breakfast before leaving the house. It need not be a big breakfast. It can be as simple and easy as toast, cereal and a glass of milk or orange juice.
• Get to know your school, its staff and your children’s teachers. Attend all orientation meetings and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Be sure to consult the school’s student-parent website throughout the year to know what is expected as far as homework and other assignments from classroom to classroom.
• Set a specific time each school afternoon or evening for the children to sit down in a quiet place and do their homework. Let them help decide the specific times for homework and for recreation. While they are doing homework, be sure you are in the vicinity, available to help them and to encourage them. Offer them nutritious snacks while they are doing their studies and projects.
• Once studies are done (or before) strongly encourage the children to do physical fun out of doors or in the house, if possible. Electronic games and TV watching are OK, but their use should be strictly limited to perhaps only two or (max) three hours per evening. Parents should set good examples and try to do physical recreation with children whenever possible: taking walks, riding bikes, playing ball or other games in yards or parks.
• Bedtime, especially for younger children, should be strictly enforced. A lack of sleep – along with poor nutrition – is one of the biggest hurdles to effective learning.
• For younger children, read to them or listen to them read as often as possible. Children and parents develop strong bonds while reading, and it leads to a love of both reading and learning in the children.
• Network with other parents to compare strategies for school success and to discuss how to handle any problems that arise.
• During the year, show enthusiasm for children’s efforts and achievements, even seemingly minor ones, to boost their self-esteem and confidence. Always gently praise children and never yell at, scold or humiliate them.
• If a child’s behavior seriously changes toward a dark side, seek help immediately to find out if the child is being bullied or if there are other problems – medical or psychological. School counselors are always eager to help with such concerns.
• One of the best ways to keep on track through the school year is to start a scheduling-assignments calendar for each child. Children and parents can then sit down and write down which assignments, projects or extracurricular events are coming up in the month to better be prepared for them. It will also allow parents to make plans around times when their children will be busiest with school-related tasks. Writing down tasks is one of the best ways to de-clutter and streamline one’s days.
We sincerely hope all children and parents in the district have a happy, productive school year.