Winding down after the fun and freedom of summer is quite a transition for children. It involves preparing for the first day of school; and back to school makes most of us think of more than one of these four things: shopping, organizing, and saying “goodbye,” and stress. With the help of Paradise Valley Unified School District, and Educational Psychologist Melissa Mullen, we have prepared this list of five essential back to school tips that will help eliminate the stress factor and insure you and your children are prepared for a successful start to the new school year.
- Instruct organization projects – in your child’s room prior to the first day of school to stimulate cognitions. According to Ed. Psychologist Dr. Mullen, weak organizational skills inhibit cognitive and academic skills. Have your child organize his belongings in his room, and definitely his desk (if applicable). Check Pinterest for creative ideas. Secluding your child to him room to complete the task could seem like a punishment and be counterproductive. Instead, join him in his room and talk. Remind your child that school will begin on Monday, August 10th. Talk about changes that will be different this year, including starting a new school, having a new teachers and establishing new routines. Remind your child that there is a lot to be excited about such as reconnecting with friends and teachers, building new relationships and participating in extracurricular activities.
- Re-establish bedtime routines – prior to the first day of school, start re-establishing bedtime routines, including bedtime and wake up schedules. This will ensure that your child is well rested for the first day of school. Having your child layout his or her outfit the night before school will help them with two things: mentally connect the transition to school, and create a sense of independence and enjoyment. Have them get their backpacks ready to go too.
- Start a new back to school tradition – prior to the first day of school, plan something special for your child. Whether it’s going out for ice cream, writing an encouraging note for your child’s lunch box or buying your child a small gift to commemorate the first day – a book about easing back to school worries or a journal.
- Establish a homework routine – set your child up for success throughout the school year by establishing a positive homework routine. Make sure your child has a quiet and well-lit area where he or she can complete assignments or read a book. When your child arrives home for the day, ask if he or she may need help with any assignments. Offer to review homework before it is due. Using a wall calendar or whiteboard will keep your child organized if your child attends middle or high school and has multiple classes – and can be a great gift that also promotes organization.
- Ask your child about his or her day – asking insightful questions will help get the conversation going and ignite your child’s passion for learning and school. Some questions to ask may include – what was the best thing that happened during your day? Tell me one thing that made you laugh today? What was the weirdest thing you heard today? Tell me one thing that you learned today? Often, children are reluctant to talk about school, and for many different reasons, ranging from: bullying, disappointment in one’s self, fear of punishment or embarrassment, to simply wanting to put school behind them and play. For this it is critical we ask insightful questions about their day, and listen when they speak.