Summer vacation is done (hope your family had a great one) and the school year has begun! Don’t know about you, but I love the back-to-school season. A new year, a clean slate, a fresh start. Here are some valuable GCP Back-to-school do’s and don’ts for you busy parents which will help your children begin the new school year in good shape.
• Meet the Teachers: If your son is in a single classroom all day, have you met his teacher(s)? If he is a middle or high schooler, do you know what he is taking this year and how he feels about his classes so far? Get the teacher’s email address–this can be the best way to ask a quick question or check in during the year. Be sure to ask the teacher if s/he checks it regularly before using it, though. If s/he doesn’t, then ask what the best and quickest way to communicate will be.
• Show up, Sign up: Have you volunteered for a classroom and/or school activity? If your working hours make this too tough, have you found a parent/buddy who will keep you in the loop about what is going on at school? Make sure you put the Parent Association/PTA meetings in your calendar and make the time to attend one of the early ones in the school year. Good way to get the lay of the land and to find that buddy if you need one.
SCHOOL DON’T DO:
Don’t Pre-Judge the Teacher: Regardless of what you’ve heard about your child’s new teacher from other parents, don’t start the school year with a bad attitude towards him or her. Be friendly and cooperative until/unless you have clear, direct and first-hand evidence regarding his or her treatment of your child which gives you reason to be concerned. Keep eyes and ears open, of course, but stay focused on how this teacher works with your child and this class.
AFTER SCHOOL TO-DO’s:
• Manage the Schedule: Have you focused on his after-school activities? Making sure he is not overscheduled and that he is doing things he enjoys?
• Lock in Some Playdates: If your child enjoys playdates, make a few with some of his friends from last year to strengthen those ties. Try to include one with a friend in his new class, and one with a former classmate who is now in another class. This will help him to feel good about his return to school friends.
AFTER SCHOOL DON’T DO:
• Don’t Sweat the Crankiness: Transitioning back to a full day of school can be tough. Your younger ones may be working hard to hold it together at school, and they can become moody fussbudgets once they get home (where they no longer have to keep it together). They may not want to recount every detail of the day as soon as you see them. Give them a little space and time to adjust.
• Do a Tech Check: Have you focused on technology he will need to use for the school year? If your older child uses a laptop, is it in good working order and does he have the means to BACK IT UP ( an external hard drive is best)? This is really important; neither he nor you will want to deal with his losing work following a computer crash. What technology does your younger child need access to at home? You can ask the teacher about this.
• Create a Study Space: Have you made sure your son/daughter has a good space in your home in which to study? Free of obvious distractions (no TV nearby), a comfortable chair and a good reading light?
• Calendar Check: If he has regular homework assignments, does he have a calendar/assignment book? If the school doesn’t provide one, get one for him and help him figure out how to use it to keep track of his short and long term homework assignment and projects. Some students prefer to keep their calendars on their phones. This works best, of course, if they are not easily distracted by the 7 zillion other things going on with their phones.
HOME DON’T DO:
• Don’t Let Bedtime Slide: After a summer of bedtime at “whenever” time, it will be very tempting to allow your younger children continue with the later bedtime into the fall. Wrong move. Adjusting to the new school year is even harder if you are sleepy all the time. As tough as it may be to initially enforce, move that bedtime up so that your child can get a full night’s sleep.
WANT MORE TIPS?: Check out these online sites for more back-to-school help:
Readiness Check from Learning Heroes.org: If you are a regular GCP reader, you know all about this great tool. Have your child take this very brief reading and math quiz for the grade they were in last year (not the one they are entering now). The results of this quiz will help give you a sense of whether they need to revisit any concepts from last year to help them get ready for this year’s work. You may also want to reference the results as you chat with the new teacher early in the school year about your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
Parent’s Back to Schoolkit from Parent Toolkit (NBC Live and Learn): Create your very own customized “Back to Schoolkit”, courtesy of Parent Toolkit. Indicate your child’s grade, what kind of help you can use (e.g., academic, social/emotional, health and wellness, college and career), and the specific area in which you are focused (e.g., homework, organization, bullying, safety). You will be directed to many great articles curated just for your needs.
Want even more tips? Here are a few other online back-to-school resources for parents:
Smart Back to School Tips and Ideas From Parenting Magazine
Have a great start to the school year, everyone!!