Going back to school is an exciting and nervous time for students, parents, and teachers. Students worry about the homework load they will be facing, finding the right classroom, and whether they will be in the same class as their friends. Teachers worry about being prepared for all their students’ needs and following the curriculum in a fun and interactive way. Parents worry about all those things and more.
It’s easy to get caught up in the anxiety that is the first day, and week of school – especially in the times of the pandemic. However, you do not have to be anxious if you are prepared for the change in the family schedule, and the re-focusing of the kids from play and freedom, to studying and bedtimes.
1 – Make the time to eat dinner as a family at least twice a week. It might not seem like a big deal, but it has positive impact. Dinners together will help the family catch up with what has been happening at school and at work. It will help children feel that they are a valuable member of the family unit. With the added pressures of baseball practices, long workdays, and the rushing tempo of the day, a norm rather than an exception, slowing down together at dinner to laugh, talk, and share, will bring health and increased joy to the family.
2 – Create a permanent workspace for your child. For some children, doing homework in their room at a desk with a lamp is the most efficient environment. However, for many parents and kids, doing homework with parents around to help, is better because they can:
a) Supervise the amount of homework being done
b) Help the child clarify homework instructions
c) Check the work to support their effort and assist with correcting mistakes, adding positive insights into why erasers are on pencils
Whatever space you choose as a functional workspace that is best for your child, make sure that it is relatively quiet, well lit, and provides what they need in the form of supplies like pencils, a dictionary, scissors, colored pencils, calculators, rulers, paper, and erasers.
3 – Offer the teacher help. Teachers go above and beyond their job description in so many ways. They often use their own funds to provide for their students out of the desire to give them the most fulfilling learning experience possible. They are also always looking for help within the classroom. Whether it’s help with class parties or field trips, extra assistance is appreciated. Consider gifting your child’s teacher with a Visa Gift Card to help with their out-of-pocket expenses. These cards can be easily customized with a favorite teacher photo, along with an encouraging message. Teachers will be forever grateful for any help you can provide.
4 – Reach out to other parents. The more interconnected your child feels during the school year, the more likely they are to succeed. Whether it’s having a friend to go to the dance or homecoming game with, or in creating a study group, when parents reach out to other parents for support, reassurance and friendship will positively influence students to do the same.
5 – Gather the classroom supply lists and shop for products ahead of time. There is nothing worse for a child on their first day of school then walking into a classroom feeling unprepared. The nerves and uncertainty they feel are enough. Be sure to create an ultimate supply list of notebooks, binders, pencils, math tools, and wide lined paper. Go through these items with your child before the first day of school.
6 – Involve your child in an extra-curricular activity. Being a part of a group, whether it’s for athletics, educational or adventurous play dates, is one of the best ways for children to gain self-confidence and a sense of community and belonging. They will meet other children. During the process of interaction, they will build their socialization, conflict resolution, and critical thinking skills. Keep in mind that free play is also important for every child. Be sure that kids have time to themselves for whatever they would like to do creatively.
7 – Get involved at the school. Take the time to attend Breakfast with the Principal occasionally, join the PTA, help with fundraisers, school plays, and even volunteer for bus duty. If your schedule is impossibly tight, be sure to attend the open houses and introduce yourself to the staff and administrators. The more you make yourself a part of the school environment, the more your child will feel welcome, included, and inspired to do well.
8 – Get and stay organized. Some say that organization is the key to success! Preparing your child, from a young age, to put and keep things in their proper place, will help build this rich and rewarding habit. Children will feel more confident when completing homework and studying, and their organizational habits will follow them into adulthood.
Start the school year off right! School, is essentially, an offshoot of the family environment. Incorporating your time and efforts into your child’s education will build a stronger foundation for them and for the community.