Back To School Tips For A Successful School Year

Back To School Tips For A Successful School YearBy Susan Brown

Back-to-school stress can affect kids and parents alike.  The hustle and bustle of sending the kids back to school can be overwhelming.  Changing schedules and routines can be difficult.  However, a little preparation and the right attitude can help reduce some of the stress involved.  Here are some tips to help make the transition from a laid back summer schedule to a successful school year:

  • Be positive.  A parent’s attitude has a strong influence on how children view the beginning of school.  Let them know that it’s okay to be a little anxious and don’t dismiss their feelings.  Offer positive feedback such as suggesting that there is a child in their class who wants to be their new friend and ask them how they will figure out who that will be.  Teach children to introduce themselves to help make new friends. 
  • Get back into a solid bedtime routine.  Summer bedtimes are often more flexible.  Keep in mind kids need 10 – 11 hours of sleep so that they are alert and ready to learn.  A week before the first day of school is a good time to begin.  Expect that the children will be tired the first week of school and plan for low-key afternoons to help them adjust. 
  • Create routines.  It’s easier to get out of the house on time in the mornings if you prepare in advance and let the kids know what your expectations are.  Kids need to be shown what to do rather than told what not to do.  Having children involved in the schedule planning helps them feel in charge, creates cooperation, and teaches responsibility.
  • Shop for school supplies together.  Most elementary school teachers will provide a list in advance so that your children have the supplies they need.  Some will provide a list on the first day of school, so other than a few basic supplies, it may be best to wait and see what the teacher requests. 
  • Shop strategically.  Many parents end up over-buying new clothes for school.  Figure out what your children may have outgrown and what they really need before heading to the mall. 
  • Plan ahead.  Designate where backpacks, lunchboxes, shoes, jackets, etc. should be stored and have children put them away themselves.  Kids love to cooperate and you’ll be less stressed when not trying to do it all yourself.  Look for ways to simplify rather than complicate family life. 
  • Plan and shop for healthy breakfast, lunch and snacks a week in advance.  This saves precious time and reduces stress.  Kids can help pack their own lunches and they are more likely to eat what they have chosen themselves. 
  • Prepare clothing in advance so kids know exactly where to find it and can get ready easily.  Organizing by outfit, including underwear and socks, really helps to streamline the process.  Having to rummage through the clothes dryer in the morning to find that pair of shorts or socks is stressful and time consuming and can throw everyone off schedule. 
  • Be sure your child eats a healthy breakfast.  Nutritionists tout the importance of eating breakfast.  Skip sugary cereals and heavy carbohydrate-laden meals.  Opt for a protein-rich breakfast such as eggs or Greek yogurt.  The protein will provide energy that will last until lunchtime, prevent spikes in blood-sugar levels, and help to keep your child focused. 
  • Relieve first day jitters. The first day of school can be chaotic.  Most schools have scheduled times to meet the teacher(s) so be sure to participate.  It’s also a good idea to tour the school, especially if it’s a new school for your child.  Locate the bathrooms, nurse’s office, lunch room, etc. so your child feels comfortable in their new surroundings. 
  • Talk about school bus safety.  Reinforce general school bus safety rules before the start of school.  Let them know if they have any problems on the bus to tell the driver and you immediately.  Be sure you are on time to meet the bus so you are there when your child arrives and let them know what to do if you are delayed for some reason. 
  • Set a family password.  Make sure your child knows not to share the password with anyone.  In the event you have an emergency and need to send someone else to meet your child, make sure the child asks for the password before going along with them. 
  • Parent involvement is important even for a kindergartener.  Communicate with your child’s teacher regularly about your child’s progress and social development. Work with your child’s teacher to help your child be successful and overcome any challenges.   Volunteer whenever your schedule permits and become an active participant in your child’s school parent-teacher organization. 
  • Choose extracurricular activities carefully.  When children are enrolled in too many activities, it can create overload for both parents and children.  Select one or two activities that your child enjoys and, if possible, carpool with other parents to share driving duties. 
  • You have a lot of influence on your child’s success.  Although volunteering and participating are important, what you do at home helps determine your child’s success.  Make your home learning-friendly by providing a quiet place to study and do homework.  Be a learner yourself so your child understands that learning is important and interesting for everyone.  Studies show that children are more likely to be successful when adults in their lives are actively engaged in learning. 
  • Support a life-long love of learning.  Help your child identify what is enjoyable about school and applaud their efforts, learning, and new knowledge.  Encourage learning at home and provide opportunities for your child to grow and learn. 

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