Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Special Feature: Back to School made EASY

Going back to school after summer break is an exciting and often chaotic time of year for parents, students and even teachers. There are many ways that parents in particular can make the back-to-school transition easier on their child and themselves, which is the reason I decided to write a list of the top 10 things parents can do to prepare for the upcoming school year. Enjoy! :)

1) Re-establish Routines. Getting the entire family back into routine will help get the new school year off to the right start. Routines help the entire family structure their day, which makes it more manageable for all. Try re-establishing routines at least 1-2 weeks before to ease children into the school year. Here are a few suggestions: · Setting the morning alarm earlier the week before school starts· Gradually sending your child to bed earlier· Adapt meal time routines to match those at school· Designate a time to do homework· Get clothing and school materials ready the night before

2) Talk About it.Open dialogue with your child is an important element in getting him/her ready for the school year. I suggest focusing on the positives about going back to school, talking about what they will be learning during the school year and addressing any worries they may have. Sharing enthusiasm for learning and voicing your confidence in your child’s ability to succeed is a great motivator. Parents can also encourage their child to be inclusive, attentive and positive throughout the school year. To maintain communication with your child about their learning you can review what they have learned during the school day at dinner time.

3) Get Ready Early.Try to make time to buy all necessary school supplies as early as possibly, ideally a week or two before school starts. Creating a checklist with your child can also make the shopping trip a lot easier. Keep in mind that some teachers require specific materials, so you many need to make a second trip to the store once the school year starts.

4) Show Them The Way. Another way you can make back to school stress-free for your child is by visiting the school before the first day and/or driving the bus route with your child. Especially if your child is starting kindergarten or in a new school try to visit the school with your child, meet the teacher and locate the classroom, office, lunchroom, washrooms etc., this will help ease anxiety and familiarize your child with the new environment.

5) Read.Taking the time to read with your child is a great routine to establish throughout the year. It emphasizes the importance of reading regularly as well as allows reading skills to develop beyond the classroom. Parents can read to their child as well as ask him/her to read a loud. Also, taking a trip to the community library is a great way to create excitement about reading by having him/her choose their books.

6) Stay Organized.During the first week back at school make sure to review all information and handouts sent by the school and your child’s classroom teacher. Do this once it arrives to make sure you stay up-to-date on important information, and mark important dates on your calendar. Children have difficulties with organization just as much as adults do. To help your child stay organized you can: · Label important items· Organize binders and other school related materials (e.g. colour-coding binders for different subjects, using dividers etc.) · Keep school supplies in the same designated area of the home· Reinforce the use of your child’s agendas to remember homework and important dates

7) Homework Help.One of the most difficult problems for parents to address is the trouble with homework. It is important to tackle these problems early in the school year because they can have a great affect on a child’s performance. To help your child with homework you can: · Make use of homework schedules and routines· Designate a place in the home to do homework· Hire a personal tutor to address your child’s specific needs· Use checklists, calendars, agendas, and visual reminders to remember important due dates· Track your child’s progress for homework completion· Create a reward system to provide positive reinforcement for their efforts
8) Turn Off The TV! This may be a difficult tip for both children and parents. However encouraging your child to do other activities such as playing games, puzzles, reading or colouring instead of watching television will help ease your child into the learning process. Television can be a huge distraction for many children, and getting them used to engaging in other activities can help maintain their focus on learning once they arrive to school in September.
9) Extra-Curricular Activities.Extra-curricular activities are a great way for children to develop social skills and learn new valuable life skills. However, enrolling your child in too many extra-curricular activities can be extremely stressful and make it harder for him/her to focus on school. Your child will benefit from one or two activities at most, that are of interest to him/her. Parents can also find out from the school or classroom teacher the-curricular activities that are offered by the school, as well as set up after school play dates with other parents.

10) A New Outfit! Growing up I remember one of the things that got me most excited about going back to school was the chance to wear the new clothes, shoes and /or backpack that I carefully picked out for my first day of school. The first day of school outfit not only creates excitement, but also provides a confidence boost for the first day back.

This guest post was shared by Ayesha who is a teacher and offers tutoring services. For more tips check out her blog here.

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