As summer comes to a close, parents and students all over the country will celebrate National Back to School Month. As we begin to prepare for school, children all over will be doing back-to-school shopping, and parents will be looking for information to ensure their students are prepared.
Returning to school has its own aura of anticipation. Even students who might find school less appealing look forward to the social aspects of seeing some of their friends in the face-to-face as opposed to their social media presence.
This is an ideal time to make a few resolutions that can help your children either perform better or remain in top form. We all recognize that the impact of school, and usually a teacher or two that shows a personal interest, can have a profound effect on academic performance, whetting a new-found interest that might serve as an introduction to a later career.
One of the most helpful things any parent can do is to engage your child enthusiastically about the positive aspects of the new school year. If you’re enthused, there’s a better chance that they will be, too. A few ideas that might make the new school year smoother include:
The schedule. Go over the daily schedule with your child, including extracurricular activities, homework routine and bedtime. Consider creating a calendar that your child can reference to see what each day will bring. Pacing your child now to what’s ahead will prevent stress and burnout later in the year. Deal with the homework schedule when it is finalized and not after you observe inconsistent adherence to it. And, the key to making all of this run smoothly is rest! Ensuring your child gets a good night’s sleep is integral to their success.
The conference. If your student is a stellar performer, you will be the coach that keeps him or her in their successful ways. If your child lacks in school performance, don’t wait until disappointing grades roll in. Stay on top of how well they do and interject yourself into your child’s academic affairs along the way. For example, parent-teacher night. Is it an accident that so many teachers will tell you that the parents who show up are the ones who often have children who are performing well, even exceptionally? And the parents with whom you’d like to have a chat are absent. Being involved in your child’s schooling is often critical to their success. If you can’t make it to a face-to-face conference with a teacher, email or call. But staying on top is the key.
Give me 20 pushups. OK, it’s not about pushups and it’s NOT just about books and classroom learning. Get your student involved in some form of after-school activity, whether it’s sports or one with social aspects such as theater. I hear parents complain about not being able to peel kids away from the computer screen. Set limits to non-school computer time and gaming. Physical activities are good for the body and mind and for developing much-needed social skills later in life.
The necessities. Expect stores to be jammed with frantic parents, and students from kindergarten to college. Draw up a school supplies list or ensure that you have one from the school if they provide it. For younger students, a visit to the school, especially if it’s your child’s first time, can help alleviate any opening day jitters.
In addition to these tips, we need to remember to keep our children safe. With the start of school comes increased road traffic from school buses and teen drivers, as well as plenty of children on bicycles, and young pedestrians hurrying to get to and from school. Safe driving can save lives. Slowing down and paying extra attention to your surroundings, especially when you’re near a school, can help avoid tragedies.
I would offer one other suggestion. Every parent should pause and try to remember what those back-to-school days were like for you. If they were positive, memorable and happy, try to re-create the same atmosphere for your child. If they were less than pleasant, try to be objective in what should have been different and ensure that your child’s school experience begins with a positive punctuation mark.
My list is not a primer on how to prepare for going back to school. But I’m a parent too, and being one offers different opportunities and challenges for all of us, especially if you’re a single parent. Going back to school on a positive and prepared note is worth all the effort for our children because when they have a positive experience, it lasts a lifetime.
That’s my take, what’s yours?