Back to school is an exciting time for families, but it can be stressful too (and not just because the kids are pouty about summer being over). Even though you’re not the one going back to class, there are important steps you can take as a parent to ensure that the transition from vacation to school is a smooth one. This academic year, set your child up for success with these crucial back-to-school tips.
Attend back to school night
Your child’s school should have an open house -- make sure to go! According to a policy brief by the National Education Association, parent, family and community involvement in education correlates with higher academic performance. Meeting your child’s teacher is a great way to break the ice and build rapport. Taking this extra step will encourage honest and accountable progress updates from the teacher. Become familiar with future school events that you can attend or volunteer for to show your child you are invested in their academic success.
Make the morning a breeze
According to Kristen Harding, childcare expert from the childcare and nanny agency Tinies, a morning routine can set the tone for a peaceful, focused day. Give yourself a head start by getting up 15 minutes before your kids. Let them choose their breakfast and outfit the day before so there’s no lag picking outfits. Ban electronics before bed so they don’t stay up late, and in the morning so they’re not distracted while getting ready.
Set up a homework regiment
After a long day at school, it can be difficult for your child to get into homework mode. Education expert Nancy K. Gretzinger, EdD suggests giving your little scholar 20-30 minutes of down time after school before they do homework. When it is time to sit down, she advises setting the scene with a clean work area, complete with the necessary supplies, and keeping the homework manageable by partially covering worksheets or working in 20-minute intervals.
Equipment them with the right tools
Review the supply list you receive from child's teacher or school and make sure they have everything they need for their first day. PBS Kids advises taking a special shopping trip to get your child stocked up on the essentials. Having the right tools will not only make them feel prepared. Splurging on a cool notebook or pen will make going back to school a lot more fun.
Prioritize your child's health
Your child’s physical health is tied to his or her attitude and propensity for schoolwork. Pediatric hospital Children’s National suggests taking the time to do a health audit of your son or daughter as you prepare for their first day of school. Make sure your kids start the school year healthy by getting recommended vaccinations, packing a well-balanced and nutritious lunch, and touching base with teachers and school nurses about conditions your child has, like asthma or food allergies.
Mark your calendar
Keep a calendar, both for your student and for yourself, so there are no surprises as you both embark on the new school year. Donna Goldberg, author of The Organized Student, says that by fourth grade, kids need their own planners to keep track of homework. While you can let your child prioritize their assignments, you can keep your own weekly calendar for a more holistic view of the school and family schedule. They might know that their math homework is due on Thursday, but they probably don't have as good of a sense as you do of what's coming up next month.