It’s that time again, where we trade sunshine and summer nights for backpacks and school days. But just because summer is over doesn’t mean going back to school should be approached with a humdrum attitude. Use these five tips to get your child excited for the new school year and on the right track to academic success!
Celebrate the school year. Ring in the new school year with fanfare to keep your child’s spirits high. Plan a special breakfast on important school days to start their day on the right note and celebrate important milestones or academic accomplishments. You can even add simple decorations like balloons and include notes of congratulations and encouragement from family members. Build your new student’s enthusiasm for learning by setting aside a special study space – more than 80% of studying will be done at home. Having a comfortable space will help make homework less of a chore, while the regularity of the location will condition your child’s mind to automatically kick into study mode.
Connect with the class. Make time for you and your child to meet and greet the key people in your child’s school year. Work with school professionals to be aware of schedules of school events and for guidance on key things to be learned throughout the year. And make it your mission to ensure your child goes to school with a buddy in hand. A child’s interaction with their peers is instrumental to their academic and social growth – particularly in the time between grades 4 through 8. If you haven’t already connected with other parents at registration or orientation events, plan informal playground playdates or an after-school get-together so your child can get to know their classmates outside of the classroom. Click on the ‘news/events’ tab to see what’s going on at your school!
Plan extra-curricular activities. Though some students are eager to start back at school, others are hesitant and need extra time to acclimate. Children who are still struggling with the new school year may find that needed motivation through extra-curricular activities such as martial arts, taking art or music lessons, or joining an after-school club. Or plan your own fun playdates or educational outings to parks, museums, or a historical site. Finding a connection between these activities and your child’s curriculum will build excitement in their studies. According to a study by the United States Department of Education, students who participated in extracurricular activities were three times more likely to have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher as these students appeared to have better self-confidence, better teacher perception, and were more motivated to succeed academically.
Adjust to a new routine. The schedule transition from summer to school can be difficult as students struggle with the shift back to an earlier wake-up time and the demands of a long school day. Sleep sets the stage for kids’ emotional, physical, mental, and academic well-being and a student’s performance in the classroom is dictated by the amount of sleep they get the night before. Students who regularly get enough sleep have improved academic performance, a positive attitude towards their education, and will be able to better interact socially with their peers and teachers. According to the Centers for Disease Control, elementary school kids need at least ten hours of sleep and adolescents need nine to ten hours a night. Protect those vital hours of sleep, by “shaping” your child’s sleep schedule so they are going to bed with sufficient time for a full-night’s sleep and be sure they are waking up at a normal time. Provide positive reinforcement for getting out of bed and completing as many steps in their morning ritual as they have mastered.
Stay positive. The most important thing to remember at this time of year is to keep enthusiasm levels high and stay positive. Back to school is an adjustment for everyone in the house and the nervous energy that accompanies any big milestone can create anxiety in parents. Children are often attuned to parents’ behavior and will take their lead from what you say and do. Stay positive and calm. This will help associate the changes happening with something positive. If you look for strengths then you will see what is possible and perhaps you just might recognize something that wasn’t there before – a learned skill, a different smile, or a new friendship. Make sure to be there as a support system to calm your child’s nerves and put them on the path to a successful school year.
Sources include: United States Department of Education, Autism Speaks, Green Ivy Educational Consulting, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Centers for Disease Control, Virginia Tech Department of Student Affairs, Momtastic.com