There is something so very exciting about the start of a new school year. For most kids, the last few weeks of summer can bring an anticipation of all the possibilities of being a year older and a grade level higher. While many students negotiate the transition easily, others need time, support and coping skills. There are many ways in which parents can support their child and ensure a positive start to a successful school year. The following tips are recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists (US):
- Review all of the information. Review the material sent by the school as soon as it arrives at the beginning and throughout the school year. These packets include important information about your child’s teacher, room number, school supply requirements, sign ups for after-school sports and activities, school calendar dates, bus transportation, health and emergency forms, and volunteer opportunities.
- Mark your calendar. Make a note of important dates, especially back-to-school nights. This is especially important if you have children in more than one school and need to juggle obligations.
- Establish bedtime and mealtime routines. Talk with your child about the benefits of school routines in terms of not becoming over tired or overwhelmed by school work and activities.
- Turn off Video Games and the TV. Encourage your child to play quiet games, do puzzles or read as early morning activities instead of playing video games or watching television. This will help ease your child into the learning process and school routine. If possible, maintain this practice throughout the school year.
- Visit school with your child. If your child is young or in a new school, visit the school with your child. Meeting the teacher, locating their classroom, locker, lunchroom, etc., will help ease pre-school anxieties and also allow your child to ask questions about the new environment. Call ahead to make sure the teachers will be available to introduce themselves to your child.
- Designate and clear a place to do homework. Older children should have the option of studying in their room or a quiet area of the house. Younger children usually need an area set aside in the family room or kitchen to facilitate adult monitoring, supervision, and encouragement.
- Finally, seek balance in all things. A healthy and happy child has a clear understanding of expectations and boundaries however; we all need time for relaxation and fun. While it is essential that we support our students in their academic pursuits, it is also important to remember that they need time to collect their energies and recharge. If you see that your child is struggling academically or emotionally, talk to them and talk to their teachers.
Written by Ms. Elizabeth Lucarini, Middle School Counselor