Every year, just as summer starts to wane, the signs of back-to-school season appear. Store shelves overflow with notebooks, pencils and lunchboxes. Teachers are sending their back-to-school lists. You’re hopeful that we will be returning to a sense of normalcy in the fall – with sports, band camps and school plays ready to take to the field and stage.
Is your child excited? Or worried? It’s probably both. How your student enters the first few days of school can set the tone for the rest of the year. This is a time for managing expectations, calming fears and settling your child into good habits and routines that make the school year a success. These back-to-school tips help families manage the transition with ease.
Why Preparing for the New School Year Matters
Ever jump into the deep end of the pool, only to surface disoriented and shivering?
It’s the same feeling for kids who’ve been enjoying lazy summer days. Suddenly, they’re dunked into the daily grind of school. If they weren’t preparing for back to school, they could have a slow start because their minds weren’t set to learning mode. Their worries about a new school year can cause concentration to slip.
Even children who look forward to learning new things and reconnecting with friends can feel anxious about the challenges ahead. Will they fit in? Will their classmates like them? Will they get good grades? Will they like their teachers? If your child is entering a new school, these concerns can be doubly worrisome.
All that anxiety can get in the way of your child’s academics, especially in those crucial first weeks of school, when the groundwork is laid for all the learning to come. Instead of diving into the deep water, try inching into the shallow end. Establish a schedule that instills healthy routines and realistic expectations before the big day, and your child will be confident and ready to make a splash this school year.
10 Back-to-School Tips for Students
Parents wondering how to make it easier to go back to school don’t have to flounder. A few simple steps can transition kids into new expectations and prepare them for success throughout the school year. A bit of planning can boost your child’s confidence, prevent unpleasant surprises and put your child in a learning mindset.
1. Set a New Schedule
A key factor in how to get organized for school is creating a schedule. Routines and regular homework times give children a sense of structure, make them feel safe and ready to tackle new challenges and tasks, and teach them self-control skills.
Think about what will be expected of your child and you. Map out the parts of each day that you know will come, including the all-important morning routine and daily homework times. By taking into account the flow of your day and making a schedule that works for you and your learner, you can establish routines that help your child feel comfortable and thrive.
2. Plan for the Week Ahead
Planning diminishes family stress and saves time in the long run. When children know what to expect, they’re equipped with the coping skills to adapt as new challenges and situations emerge.
Start with a schedule for the first full week of school, so you face each day knowing what to expect. Mapping out the week’s supplies, meals and outfits puts everything at hand when you need it.
Get into the habit of updating the plan every week. Looking at it with fresh eyes helps you carve out more time for events that fall outside the ordinary, such as preparing for a dance recital or a big game. Add it all into your schedule, using a school planner or your own system.
3. Give Incentives for Good Habits
One big difference between summer and the school year is the need for setting goals. Just as lifting weights builds muscle, goal setting gets stronger with practice.
A new school year is the perfect time to get started. Begin by setting realistic goals with your child. Then, create a rewards system that provides motivation and reinforces good habits. The promise of lunch at a favorite restaurant, a new book or video game, or a movie rental could be the push your learner needs to meet deadlines on projects, study for tests or make gains in areas where they struggle.
4. Attend Field Trips
Early in the school year, take your child on a field trip as a reminder that real-world learning encompasses all the fun of a summertime adventure. Field trips offer education that transcends books and lessons. They sustain motivation, give learners hands-on experience and offer opportunities to practice newfound skills outside the classroom.
CCA offers more than 700 field trips throughout the year and across the state to enhance the lessons that students learn in the virtual classroom. It might be an enlightening visit to the past via a Pennsylvania historical site, a close-up encounter with wildlife or a social field trip where children forge new friendships between trampoline bounces.
5. Use Your Family Mentor
At CCA, no family is alone. Back-to-school time, and the entire school year, is less stressful with guidance and kind words from a family mentor. Our family mentors are veteran CCA parents who help our newly enrolled and emerging families adjust to online learning.
Family mentors know your questions even before you ask them, because they’ve been in your shoes. They can offer advice on the nuts and bolts of online learning, from how to monitor learning growth to how to juggle the schedules of sibling learners. Contact a family mentor for support. Our mentors make themselves available by phone, in person and virtually, as they strive to help every family succeed and find useful resources.
6. Create a Distraction-Free Zone
Online learning offers many advantages. Children study at their own pace. They make their own friends. They pursue their personal passions.
Of course, online learning turns the home into a classroom, and homes are full of distractions. Games, pets and siblings beckon with the temptation of fun and playtime.
Parents can minimize the distractions that sidetrack concentration. Designate and organize a space meant just for learning. Take away the tablets, smartphones and TVs. Establish quiet hours. Help your child get into the habit of tidying up the learning space. Keep healthy snacks at hand, shooing away hunger pangs with fruits, vegetables and protein-rich noshes such as Greek yogurt.
7. Study a Little Each Day
A bit of study each day, even when evenings are still light and warm, eases children into the schoolwork mindset and establishes good habits for the rest of the year.
Good study habits help new information find a permanent place in the brain. Teach your child to stop and review the main ideas at the end of each page being studied. Learn a little bit of multiple subjects every day. Take breaks to give overtaxed parts of the brain a rest while other parts step up to help solve the problem.
Consider starting small, with five or 10 minutes of study a day, and gradually increase the time until you reach a goal, such as 30 minutes.
8. Use a School Planner
For children, poor planning can lead to bad grades, due to lost opportunities to study for tests or penalties imposed on late assignments. Whether you use an app or a paper planner, planning is essential.
The important thing is making entries a part of the daily routine. Teach your child to fill in assignment due dates as soon as they’re set. Use “backward planning,” too, with reminders of important deadlines days or weeks in advance. Use the planner for school-related assignments and events, but keep the big picture in mind by entering everything else, too – parties, trips, appointments. Keep everything you’ve entered in the planner, including teachers’ contact information and reading lists, for future reference.
9. Learn About School Activities and Programs
Part of your child’s anxiety about a new school year could be the fear of boredom. Kick away that worry by introducing your learner to your school’s programs, clubs and activities. Help them pursue a passion or find a new one.
CCA’s full array of clubs lets kids explore the performing and fine arts, literature, math, science and technology, and service to the community. They can interact with peers who share their interests in the environment, coding, chess, debate, government, broadcasting and many other pursuits. They can even suggest a new club, because CCA believes learning is a personal journey.
10. Remain Motivated
After you’ve successfully transitioned to a new school year, the goal changes to maintaining momentum. Motivating your child to learn paves the way for a school year full of progress.
Help children achieve small successes week to week, instead of piling on overwhelming expectations. Express a positive attitude about school, and make learning a family affair through visits to libraries and museums. Help your child adopt habits of self-discipline and responsibility that instill a sense of pride and keep discouragement at bay.
Do fun things with your kids, and listen when they want to express their feelings or share an accomplishment. Help children find outlets for their interests. Start the career discussion at an early age, helping children understand the world of opportunities made possible through the magic of learning.
Back-to-School Season for Cyber Charter Students
At CCA, the start of every school year is an exciting time. It’s our chance to reconnect with returning families and learners, while we get acquainted with new ones. Every student gets to experience personalized learning, customized by CCA to the child’s learning style, educational strengths and challenges, goals and interests. The best way to learn is in a school that challenges students and keeps them engaged. We do it because this is how school should work. Help your child prepare for the new year by exploring alternative schooling options at Commonwealth Charter Academy today!