It may seem like summer has just begun, but the beginning of the next school year is just around the corner! This can be a hectic time of year, so to help ease the transition from the easy-going world of summer to the bustle of academia, here are a few back to school tips for parents.
1. Familiarize yourself with the new environment.
Most schools host an open house night where you can check out the building and meet the new teachers. If your child is switching buildings, such as from elementary to middle school, this is especially important. Touring the building with your child will help put them at ease and make their surroundings familiar when the first day of school rolls around. Also, meeting your child’s new teacher will help alleviate the fear kids tend to have about encountering a mean teacher. If the building is the same as the one your child had last year, have them give you a tour so they can refresh their memory on where everything is.
2. Go shopping.
Getting school supplies is, of course, an important part of preparing to go back to school. However, instead of snagging a few notebooks while doing your grocery shopping, make the trip a big to-do. Get your child excited to look at school supplies. You can even consider letting him or her splurge on a particular item they love, like a colorful binder or an interesting art supply. Let your child use supplies he or she may be unfamiliar with, like a protractor, so he or she will feel comfortable using them in the classroom when the time comes.
3. Get organized.
Once you pick out all your child’s school supplies, make a plan to keep everything organized. Those new pencils won’t help your child if he or she can’t find them. Additionally, your child may want to choose his or her own day planner to help keep track of upcoming assignments and projects. There are even interesting technological edges your child can take advantage of to stay organized. The app MyHomework is a good one for tracking due dates and storing a class schedule.
4. Steer clear of pop quizzes.
While summer learning is very important, the last stretch of summer vacation should not be laden with quizzes on what children learned in school the previous year. This can cause stress, as the child is more likely to be reminded of what he or she has forgotten over the summer than he or she is to remember what topics were learned last year. If your child is enrolled in an enrichment program, he or she should be right on track when he or she goes back to school, so you can avoid unnecessarily burdening him or her with that anxiety.
5. Do something educational.
Instead of a “pop quiz” to help your child get back in the swing of things, do something fun and educational like a trip to the zoo or a local museum. This is a gentle way of reminding your child how it feels to be in a learning-centric environment without wearing him or her out before they go back to school. Alternatively, you can encourage your child to read a book to help foster an eagerness to learn.
6. Ease into the new schedule.
For some, summer means staying up late with the long days and taking advantage of the lack of school by sleeping in. Because of the laid back structure of summer, it can be tough for a kid to quickly transition into his or her normal practice when it’s time to go back to school. A good way to get around this is by asking the child to slowly start going to bed and waking up earlier and earlier until they are back on a more normal schedule. For younger kids, you may even want to set an alarm for their school time and run through a typical morning, so he or she knows how much time they need to get from his or her bed to the bus stop.
7. Consider how routines will change.
The sleeping schedule is likely not the only routine change, although it may be one of the more drastic ones. Kids may be allowed to make more choices about how they spend their free time during summer. During the school year, however, your child’s time will be much more structured out of necessity. It is a good idea to discuss this with your child before it is implemented so he or she is aware of what is coming. Certain changes, such as a limitation on screen time, will probably not go over well with many children if they have no warning of the change.
8. Consider after-school activities.
If your work schedule prohibits you from providing care for your child immediately after he or she leaves school, now is a good time to begin the process of interviewing after-school sitters or care providers. You may also want to consider looking into a hiring a tutor to help boost your child’s confidence in weaker areas.
9. Think about health.
This is also a good time to schedule your child’s annual physical. This will give you peace of mind about your child’s health before he or she begins a new school year, and if your child plans to participate in any sports, a recent physical is often required. Additionally, you can start to plan how you will provide your child with healthy lunches throughout the year, either through a packed lunch or the school’s provision.
10. End on a fun note!
With all the changes your child will be experiencing throughout the end of summer and beginning of the school year, it’s always a good idea to end summer on a fun note. After gathering school supplies, touring a museum, nudging the routine, and visiting the doctor, make the last thing your child does for the summer something fun. Think about that one thing he or she has been begging you to do all summer, and let him or her do it. This helps your child have fun despite the structure that is rapidly approaching. Additionally, when their new teacher asks him or her if he or she did anything fun over the summer, your child will know exactly what to say!
How are you preparing for the new school year? Have you found any crucial back to school tips that are missing from this list? If so, let us know!
Author: Victoria Kerns, Teacher and Editor at MathWizard, Inc.