Starting a new school year on a positive note and maintaining that positivity is important for every student—and every parent, too. After all, a positive experience at school can make all the difference in a child’s confidence and performance. Enjoying school and performing well in the classroom is a goal that mom, dad and child can aim for together.
A. Before the school year begins
The steps you take leading up to the new school year can set the precedence for the year ahead. The following new school year ideas have worked for many parents:
• Early to bed. As the new school year approaches, and at least a week before the start date, get your child into the routine of going to bed early, to make sure that he or she gets enough rest. The online website WebMD offers a guide to how many hours of sleep is recommended. There’s a good chance your son or daughter will fight the earlier bedtime (“But mom, this is the last week I get to stay up late!”), so be sure to explain that well-rested kids do better in school and have more energy for playtime after school.
• Explore the school surroundings. If your child is young or going to a new school, it’s a good idea to visit the school before the first day of class. First days can be overwhelming to many kids. To help them adjust to the new experience, take your child to meet the teacher or teachers ahead of time and let them visit the classroom. Inside the classroom, be sure to point out the positives. After you leave, stress how nice the teacher is and how much fun it will be to learn so many new things.
B. After the school year has started
Your plan to ensure a great school year shouldn’t end once the first day has passed:
• Limit the TV and computer. The first thing many kids want to do when they come home from school is to turn on the TV or computer. Instead, encourage them to develop their abilities and creativity in active ways. Younger kids might play games or color. Older children might walk and play with the dog, help with dinner, do arts and crafts, or play a sport.
• Assign a homework area. If you have older children who are responsible enough to study or do homework on their own in their rooms, allow them to do so. It shows your respect for them and your confidence in them. For, younger kids, however, select a homework area where you can see and supervise them. The dining room and kitchen are often the best choice since these rooms typically don’t have as many distractions.
• Designate a backpack area. Scrambling to find your child’s backpack when it comes time for school or homework can be frustrating. Consider designating a specific area for “school stuff.” It can be a chair in a hallway, the top of a desk or table, a bench in the child’s bedroom, or any other place that works for your family.
• Wake up early. Having plenty of time to get ready for school becomes easier when your child goes to bed early. Your child should understand the importance of planning enough time to eat breakfast, get dressed, and brush their teeth and hair. Rather than rushing to get out the door in the morning, readjust the bedtime/wake-up schedule until the child consistently gets ready on time. Be sure to remove all forms of morning entertainment until the child is completely ready, since distractions can make even the simplest tasks difficult.
C. As the school year goes by
You’ll probably find that the routines and rules you’ve established have had a positive impact on your child. Still, there are always ways to keep improving. Play dates are a wonderful way to build friendships. Volunteering in your child’s school, classroom or scout troop shows your son or daughter that you take an active interest in their life outside of the home.