“Back to school preparation is important to starting the new school year on the right foot,” says retired Joyce Carson, who taught for 35 years at Sulphur Springs Community School in Canyon Country.
Here are some of her recommendations to get the year started off right.
Enough sleep is one of the most important factors to your child’s success in school. Sleepy children are not efficient learners.
“Summer vacation is a time where many children stay up late and sleep in,” said Carson. “It is important to reset your child’s internal sleep clock” as soon as you can.
Find a quiet, distraction-free place for your child to do homework. Schedule homework at the same time each day. Most families have busy lives between school, work, sports and other activities, but having a routine helps the process run more smoothly. If your child completes homework in an after-school program review the homework when you get home.
Does your child know what to expect on the first day? A new school, a new teacher, even a new classroom can be scary. Explain what is different, and what will be the same this year. Have an emergency plan. Who will pick up your child if you can’t get to school because of car trouble or traffic? Teach your child to memorize important phone numbers and the full names of people they can trust.
Practice with your child if there is a new drop-off or pick-up location at your child’s school. If possible, show them where their new classroom is located.
Talk to your child about food. Paying for school lunches may be easy, but do they serve food your child wants to eat? Packing a lunch with your child may a healthier option. Don’t forget to send snacks, especially if your child is involved in an after-school. Also, get your child involved with choosing snacks and food. This will help them understand the importance of nutrition.
Set a routine
Some children crave a routine, while many parents need a routine for their own sanity. It is important to restore the “school-day” routine for your child, especially younger children as soon as you can.
Begin to limit screen time according to rules you have in place during the school year. Encourage your child to make reading a regular part of their routine. Read to your younger children at a set time each day. Encourage older children to read what interests them, said Carson.
“It doesn’t matter if it is a comic book, as long as they develop a love of reading,” she said. “Let children pick out their own reading material, then dedicate a time for them to read each day. It is important parents read, too. Model behavior you want your children to copy.”
Make sure your children are organized for school. Make a plan and stick to it. Have an “in basket” where your older children can put important papers for you to review, including permission slips, test results, school notices and other important papers.
For younger children, make sure they have a dedicated place for their backpack. As a parent, it is your job to check your child’s backpack for important school papers and homework assignments. However, teach your children to be responsible for important school assignments and exams.
“You can find inexpensive colorful baskets for children to put their school papers into,” Carson said. “I have a bright pink basket for my granddaughter’s papers and we pull everything out of her backpack and put the papers into the basket immediately.”
Support them and their school
Carson said it is important for parents to attend Back-to-School nights at the beginning of the year. “It is a great way to meet your child’s teacher and learn about the classroom routine,” she said.
Carson also encourages parents to join the school PTA and see if they can volunteer in the child’s classroom. “Involved parents are important to schools and to children,” she said.
Support your children by giving positive feedback. “How you speak to your child is very important,” said Carson. “Words are powerful.” Learning the best ways to motivate your child, without causing negative emotions, is key to creating an empowered, successful child.
Goal setting is an important life skill. Teach your children the importance of setting goals.
“Teachers are required to set classroom goals at the beginning of each year,” Carson said. “Your child should set their own individual goals as well. It is a practice that will serve them well in life. It is never too late to start teaching children, even high schoolers, the importance of personal goal setting.”