If you have children, late July, August and early September represents more than summer ending, cooler weather and fall foliage. School begins once again for millions of kids across the country. Getting your child prepared, regardless of whether they are in Kindergarten or a senior in high school, is a must. Here are some tips to make the transition from several weeks of summer fun to school days and homework easier.
Children in Kindergarten – 5th grade
1. About a week before school starts, have your children go to bed at the time they will when school begins. Set their alarm or wake them up early. It’s difficult for some kids to adjust to going to bed and getting up earlier after having an entire summer of sleeping in or staying up late. Many young children need to be on a schedule and preparing a week or so earlier will pay off, especially if you have a night owl or late sleeper.
2. If you have a school supply list (many school districts post them on their website or hand them out the last day of school), buy the supplies early. For the child who is not organized, this is a good way to begin the school year off on the right foot. Label everything and get the backpacks ready the night before school starts. Buy some extra supplies to keep at home if your child is one to lose or forget their pencils or markers at school. They will probably need some basic supplies for homework time. Nothing is more frustrating than sitting down to do homework and discovering the basics are missing.
3. If you have a Kindergartener, walk to school two or three days before school begins (or drive if they take a bus or you will be driving them). This helps acquaint them with what they will actually be doing that first day and can work wonders for alleviating the first-day jitters. If your child is especially anxious, ask if you can let them visit their new classroom for five or ten minutes the day before school starts. Many principals will let the Kindergarteners come to the campus prior to school starting.
1. Many sixth graders will be attending a new school for their middle school years. Oftentimes, the campus is much bigger and can be intimidating. Of course pre-teens may not admit they are nervous, but most parents are. Suggest a bike ride over to the school sometime during August just to look around. Many middle schools conduct orientation anyway a couple of days before school actually begins, but an extra trip without all of their peers might be worthwhile.
2. Just as in elementary school, it is important, if not more so in middle school, to have all the school supplies ready, especially an organizer. Some schools make it mandatory for the students to purchase an organizer directly from the school. Get in the habit from day one of checking it and being sure homework assignments are recorded. Visit the school website and see if homework and grades will be posted on the site. This is an excellent way to stay involved with your child’s progress throughout the year.
3. If your student struggles with the basics; math or language arts, consider hiring a tutor for some review sessions before and during the first semester. Also, it is quite common in middle school for students who are excelling to be moved to Honors classes sometime during the year. Being in an accelerated class is a good way to prepare a student for Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school, which count as college credit.
1. Find out when the PSAT and SAT exams will take place. If your student is not a good test taker, consider enrolling them in a test prep class. As colleges become more and more competitive, test scores make a difference. One can take the exam more than once if they are not happy with the score, so plan ahead and register early.
2. Stay tuned in to your student’s school and social schedule. There is a tremendous amount of freedom in high school and even the most academically gifted students can be distracted by all of the things that are associated with the teenage years. Establish a curfew for school nights and limit the amount of time that is spent at a part-time job or involved in sports, especially if time management and study skills are not your child’s forte.
3. If your son or daughter is college-bound, start doing your research and be sure to attend the college nights that many high schools sponsor. Know what is expected on college applications. It is no longer a simple process like it was for the baby boomer generation. Test scores, a formal essay, volunteer hours, and class selection in high school are all important factors in getting into college. Take advantage of the many companies that exist today solely for the purpose of assisting you and your student select the right college for them.
Regardless of the age and grade of your children, stay involved. Volunteering on any level, whether it be reading stories to your elementary aged child’s second grade class, helping in the computer lab in middle school, or being on a committee for peer counseling in high school, it is important to know what is happening at the place your children spend a large part of their week. With so many parents working, many Parent Teacher Associations have their meetings in the evening, so more parents can attend. There are activities that need volunteers that do not involve daytime hours such as calling parents in the evening for a fundraiser or helping with a weekend car wash at high school.
These tips can help your children get back to school the right way and prepare them for a year of learning and fun.