Getting the school year off to a great start, not only sets the standard and pace for the year, but also establishes good routines that are benefitted from for the entire year. A good start to the year can have a positive effect our student’s confidence, attitude, and performance both socially and academically all year through. The degree of adjustment depends on each child and family independently, but with a little forethought and planning, we can help the year be off to a great start.
Have a positive attitude. Often times, our student or child’s attitude for the year reflects our own. There may be valid reasons to not be excited or nervous for the year. However, despite the challenges that may lie ahead, find something to be positive about within every situation. Reflect the positive to your child.
Be of good physical and mental health. Try your best to take care of the appointments that your children need to have before school starts. This little bit of shuffling of schedules will prevent them from missing school and the establishment of routines within the classroom. Make sure to bring up any emotional or physical concerns to your pediatrician, to check if these are true concerns or part of the developmental process. Having a clean bill of mental and physical health eliminates and addresses concerns early and benefits all.
Mark your calendar. As soon as you get notice of important dates, put them on your calendar. This is especially important if you are juggling more than one school calendar and/or grade level. As an organizational help, assign a color to each family member so that at a glance it is easy to determine which activity belongs to which member of the family. Marking your calendar, and making school a priority, helps your children feel important, and models the value of school. Should childcare be needed for some of these events, start thinking about options well in advance.
Reestablish routines. Start by defining the outcome that you wish to see for your family and create or reestablish your routines from there.
- Mornings are hard, especially as the school year progresses and the excitement and newness wears off. Start your mornings by eliminating the option of TV or electronics before school. It is marked that we eat and operate slower while trying to pay attention to the drone of the TV. This is for everyone! Kids will become interested in the morning news if it is on, and they are still waking up. Studies also show that students who are not involved in passive activities such as watching TV or electronics before school, are more prepared, alert and equipped for better learning.
- Getting to bed on time and in a calm manner pays off in the mornings as well. Establish a bedtime routine that gives the outcomes that you want and need, then stick with it.
- Set a place and structure for homework, equipped with school supplies handy. Having one set place where homework is tackled not only keeps your student on task but also helps with items being misplaced throughout the house. Having a second set of school supplies eliminates the stress of having forgotten a needed tool in the classroom.
- Establish a place for backpacks, lunchboxes, and miscellaneous needs to be stored for the morning. The night before have all the necessary items for the next day packed, prepped, and in the established place. For lunches, prep or make the meal the night before storing them with quick and easy access to complete the process in the morning.
- Some routines need time to establish and become grounded, make sure that you allow for the adjustment period by staying consistent, while also flexible for adjustments where needed.
Keep good communication with the school and teachers. You’ve gone to Back to School Night, or Registration Day, but the communication process is just beginning. Keep up the communication lines with the teacher as success and complications happen. Having open, clear, and consistent communication with the teacher and school builds a more unified team all working for the success of your child. When success happens, share and celebrate with your child and teacher. When concerns arise, take care of them from the beginning so that they do not evolve into a crisis.
Take control of your schedule. To the best of your ability, try and eliminate extras from your schedule to help with the adjustment of a new year. The less you have on your calendar, allows for setting of routines and sets a confidence in your child that you are there for them as they adjust to the year.
Prioritize extra-curricular activities. Activities and commitments outside of school are important physically, socially, and mentally. However, not all opportunities are a priority for your family.
- Take a careful look at each member of the family’s activities and set the schedule.
- Don’t forget to look at which days during the week are heavy school load days, and take that into consideration.
- Make sure your child is willing and ready to make the commitment that each activity requires.
- Be sure to arrange for carpooling when possible. Make sure there is a backup plan in place for when the unexpected emergency occurs.
- Evaluate for your family the time and financial cost of each activity to determine if it really is a fit for you.
- Remember quality is always more important and longer lasting than quantity.
Clark, L. (1996). SOS: Help for parents (2nd ed.). Berkley, CA: Parents’ Press. ISBN: 0935111204.
Dawson, M. P. (2004). Homework: A guide for parents. In A. Canter, L. Paige, M. Roth, I. Romero, & S. Carroll (Eds.),Helping children at home and school II: Handouts for families and educators. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.
Rimm, S. (1996). Dr. Sylvia Rimm’s smart parenting: How to raise a happy, achieving child. New York: Crown. ASIN: 0517700638.
National Association of School Psychologists— www.nasponline.org