Back to school is in the air. Parents are currently being bombarded with back-to-school sales in magazines, newspapers, television ads, and store flyers. Whether you shop online or wait in line, advertisers suggest that their store or website has everything you could possibly need to get your child school ready.
Have you made your list yet? Most lists include: a book bag, pens, pencils, glue stick, spiral note pad, compass, calculator, 3-ring binder, gym shoes, and clothes. You may even have a lunch box on your list.
But are these things what your children really need in order to be ready for school? Perhaps getting your child school ready involves more that buying things. Maybe supplies are not what you need to supply for your children to get them off to a good start this school year. It just might be that the best getting-ready-for-school strategies you can employ are not found at the mall or your local department store.
Below are five suggestions for getting your children school ready. Do they need to be on your back-to-school list?
- Start the school schedule early. Break the summer sleep-in/stay-up-late mode. Begin the morning and evening school routine at least two weeks before school actually starts. Don’t expect that your child will be able to make the adjustment to getting up for school quickly or easily without a break-in period. Take the full two weeks to work into the routine slowly by adjusting the bedtime and wakeup time a few minutes every day until the desired time is reached. Your goal is to have the schedule set prior to the first day of school.
- Create a positive attitude about going back to school. Talk to your children about being able to see their friends, meet their new teacher, and all the opportunities that being at school provides. Focus on your child’s area of interest and emphasize the ways in which school helps make it possible for her to pursue it. When your child speaks negatively, redirect him into the positive.
- Visit the school. Reacquaint your child with the school. During the summer, classrooms change, teachers transfer to new buildings, principals are reassigned, and new playground equipment gets installed. Don’t wait for orientation day to get reacquainted. Go to the school and play on the playground, meet the new principal or office personnel, talk to the janitor.
- Set goals for the upcoming school year. Help your children create realistic expectations for themselves about school. Talk about what they want to accomplish this school year, not what you want them to accomplish. Remember, not all of school is about grades. Making new friends, speaking up in class, standing up for oneself, staying organized, and managing behavior are all crucial skills for a successful school year.
- Model learning. Create a time in your home when everyone is involved in learning-related activities such as reading, playing with numbers, telling family stories, journaling, or quiet reflection. Turn off the television and video games and have a set time for the whole family to feed their brain. In fact, model learning year round, even through the summer months. This will set the stage for homework. A study time can be a logical extension of the learning time you have in your home.
Give your kids every opportunity to be ready for school this year. Head to the mall or department store with your list of needed items, and remember to add to your list the suggestions above. By doing so you will give your kids what they really need to begin this school year: structure, energy, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude.
Author: Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman