School supplies are purchased, backpacks are ready to go, lunch money is figured out, bus schedules are nailed down. And Breathe! It’s almost the first day of school!
It comes every year, and the anticipation, excitement, nervous feelings, and squeaky new sneakers are all a part of the picture. New teachers, new classmates, new friends, new challenges that need to be faced. We might feel pretty set with the physical parts and logistics of going back to school, but what about those nervous feelings, those worries and doubts? Those challenges? How do we prepare our children and youth for what lies ahead?
The US Department of Education recently shared a great blog post http://blog.ed.gov/2016/08/9-back-to-school-pro-tips/ about how to prepare for the new school year… here are some ideas…
- Visit the school. Make sure you are familiar with where your child is going to spending a large portion of their day, who they are going to see, what they are going to touch, feel, smell, and eat. This puts you more in tune with what they are experiencing, so that you can successfully navigate difficulties.
- Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher (or teachers!). Make sure you know them and they know you! Having a solid, communicative relationship with the person who is leading your child’s path forward in education is essential. Make sure that you understand their expectations for your child, and encourage them to chat with you if there is an issue. These are amazing professionals who spend all of their time thinking about how best to educate your kid (or kids!).
- Make homework a priority. Prepare a study area. Not all children are going to have homework on a daily basis, but if they do, make sure that you provide time and the right environment for them to complete it successfully. If this means turning of the tech, the TV, etc. and designating a quiet space where your child can focus, the more the better!
- Manage TV (and technology) time. TV and tech time is a component in the lives of many of our families, and managing it is essential. Setting parameters (is homework done? Have you finished chores? Did you send that thank you card to your grandma?) for use is a great way to ensure that there is balance in a child’s life.
- Get everyone to bed on time. It’s been clearly proven, over and over again, that a good night’s sleep is essential to brain development, particularly in children and teens. In fact, recent data indicates that teenagers actually need MORE sleep than younger children and adults, because their brains are going through another big phase of development that requires more sleep. A good sleep routine, blended with a good routine at home sets kids up for success.
- Make healthy meals. Three healthy, balanced meals a day keeps kids going (and maybe a healthy snack in the afternoon?) and supports brain function. Cranky kids? A banana can make a world of difference. And role modeling good eating habits helps teach your children how to be healthy as their grow up.
- Get that annual check-up. Schools will often require this when kids are entering a new grade, and there is a good reason for it. Making sure that your children are healthy medically makes sure that they are ready to learn in the classroom.
- Plan to read with your child everyday. This live long habit will teach your kids the value of education and reading, and if the family is reading together, then it reinforces the importance of the written word and learning as a whole. 20 minutes can make a substantial difference!