Academic success begins when students are prepared and ready to learn even before they enter the classroom. Sycamores’ Shefali D’Sa shares ten useful tips to help ensure your child starts the new school year out on the right foot.
1. Early to bed, early to rise
Getting back into a school sleep schedule won’t happen overnight! A few weeks before school starts, get your child into the habit of going to bed earlier. Gentle winding-down activities such as bath time and reading before bed can help your child relax.
2. Re-establish a routine
Establishing a consistent routine is important for kids. Write out the steps in the routine and rehearse them with your child. In the evening, this could include doing homework, playtime, brushing their teeth, having a bath, talking about the day, and reading before bed.
3. Encourage independence
Children who play an active role in preparing for back to school – such as choosing and organizing school supplies and new clothes – are more likely to get excited about going back to school, which in turn can ease their jitters. Is your child old enough for chores like emptying the dishwasher or making lunches? Daily, age-appropriate tasks will help your child gain independence and confidence.
4. Choose the right backpack
Backpacks that are too heavy or worn improperly could result in muscle strain, headaches, and neck pain. Try to choose a backpack made of sturdy, lightweight fabric with wide, padded straps that will support your child’s shoulders. Watch that they don’t sling it over just one shoulder.
5. Talk about safety
Review outdoor safety rules – things like looking both ways before crossing the street, taking the same route every day if they are walking, familiarizing themselves with crosswalk rules, and being cautious in talking to strangers.
6. Establish healthy habits
Involve your children in choosing and preparing healthy lunches and snacks. Help them find physical activities they enjoy. Take them shopping for healthy snacks and lunch items they can pack themselves. Try to stick to regular mealtimes. When possible, have family dinners so everyone can connect.
7. Limit screen time
Back to school is the perfect opportunity to re-establish screen time limits. Why not have the whole family “unplug” in the evenings before bedtime? Choose a spot where everybody can charge their devices overnight. Use an alarm clock instead of a cellphone to wake up in the morning.
8. Map it out
If your kids are starting at a new school, practice walking or driving to the bus stop or to the school building a week or two before school starts. You could even play in the school playground before school starts. This creates fun memories associated with the school before summer vacation ends.
9. Talk about first-week jitters
Reassure your child that being nervous is natural – even for teachers. You can help your child cope with these feelings when you:
- Let them express their fears. Perhaps you can offer stories of your own first-day jitters when you were a child.
- Teach them to breathe deeply and slowly to calm their nerves.
- Discuss the scenarios that worry them. For example, if they’re worried about who to sit with or talk to on the first day, help them plan a strategy and rehearse it so they’ll know what to do.
- If they are still struggling with anxiety, ask the school about mental health supports that are provided, including school-based services.
10. Celebrate the start of a new school year
If you celebrate the first day of school, your kids will see back-to-school as a transition they can really enjoy. Try a back-to-school party the day before school starts, complete with cake, balloons and educational gifts. And don’t forget to take a picture on the front step in their first-day-of-school outfits. It’s going to be a great year!