Make This School Year the Best Ever by Planning Ahead
A new school year with all it’s promises and possibilities, is around the corner. Soon the school bells will chime, and administrators and teachers will welcome eager and excited students. Back to school is a new beginning and a time for new learning in the classroom. Many students, preschool through college-aged, will soon pack a backpack or a satchel filled with school supplies, and be on their way to the classroom.
How can a family get off to a good start and make this school year the best ever? Many parents share similar concerns and questions about a smooth transition from summer break to the back to school routine. Along with the excitement, some kids struggle with feelings of uncertainty about the first day of school. Putting together a back to school family plan is so important to meet the needs of all. Not only will a plan benefit the kids, it will prevent some anxiety and undue stress for all family members. Children of all ages, preschool through college, benefit from knowing the expectations and the routine.
Begin with creating a family command center that includes a posted calendar, in a central location, for all family members to read and use. Everyone should have access to the school year calendar, to clearly state, write, and share individual and family commitments, appointments, school projects due dates, school meetings/conferences, extra curricular activities, and any other important dates. Remember to include the time of the event and any additional notes, as needed. This is a good place to post the school lunch menu.
For additional organization, set up some baskets or bins for your child to place important papers. Label one container “To Be Signed.” In this bin, instruct your children to place school folders with forms and permission slips, that need a parent signature. Label the second container “To School.” The signed forms are placed inside the second bin, ready for your child to retrieve and return to school. This will alleviate a phone call from an upset child at school stating, “Mom, I forgot the field trip permission form. Now I can’t go!” Coat hooks, installed near a door, are great to hang backpacks and makes for easy access on busy mornings. Having an organized system will prevent overlooking important communication between school and home and teach your child some responsibility.
Dedicate a designated area in your home, for your children to read, study, and complete homework assignments and projects. Set the area up so it is inviting and comfortable. Create a place for the family to gather together and study or read. Include some age appropriate school supplies, such as a dictionary, pencils, pens, paper, a ruler, and highlighters. Encourage your children to study at the same time and same place every day.
If there is no homework assigned, on a particular day, encourage your son/daughter to read, while you listen. Reading aloud to your child is important. Taking turns reading about the life cycle of plants, in your child’s Science book, provides increased comprehension. Keep interruptions to a minimum.
Do you know how many hours of sleep your son/daughter needs? Younger children, ages 3-6, need about 10-12 hours of sleep every night. Students in elementary school, ages 7-12, should average about ten to eleven hours of sleep every night. Gradually, bedtime becomes later and less. For pre-teens and teenagers, ages 12-18, eight to nine hours of sleep is best. Don’t let social time, school and family activities interfere with a set bedtime routine. Sleep is an important role in physical and mental health.
Send your kids off to school refreshed and nourished. A student cannot focus on learning if his stomach is empty and rumbling. Breakfast is such an important meal. Begin each day with food to break the fast. Whether your child eats his first meal of the day at home or at school, make sure it includes healthy choices that will fuel your child throughout the morning until lunch time rolls around.
Is your child up to date on required immunizations? Some schools will not allow a student to be on campus until all required vaccines are complete. Check with your child’s pediatrician or family doctor. It just may be time to schedule a well child check up or a physical exam. Don’t forget about a vision exam and a dental check up, too.
Ease into the back to school routine prior to the first day of school. The lazy, somewhat unstructured days of summer are ending. The established wake-up time, bedtime, and meal times your family follows, during the school year, should be in place at least one week prior to the ringing of the school bells. Both you and your child will benefit from a practice run and become comfortable with the routine, making for smooth mornings.
Finally, send your child off to school every morning on a positive note and well wishes for a good day. Remind your children to do their best. Tuck a note in a pocket or place in a lunchbox, to let your children know that you are proud of them. Kids of all ages appreciate sweet messages and appreciate knowing you are thinking of them. Children at the pre literacy stage will delight in “reading” a note from Mom and Dad with a picture of a smiley face that you drew or even a sticker.
The Write Team
Carlinville~Macoupin County Enquirer~Democrat