Tips on preparing your family for the back-to-school schedule
Wasn’t it just yesterday that your kids were chanting, “No more pencils, no more books”? Unfortunately, as summer comes to a close, a new school year begins. While kids can be excited about meeting new teachers and making new friends, they can also be sad to see the carefree days of summer vanish. Parents can feel a bit blue, too, as another summer full of family togetherness time goes into the scrapbook.
The back-to-school blues don’t have to be inevitable, though. These simple steps show you how to prepare for the new school year and give your child a fresh start for the learning to come.
Ways to Prepare Your Family for the Back-to-School Schedule
We’ve all felt it – the end-of-summer slump that comes with earlier bedtimes and back-to-school shopping as we gear up for the next school year’s adventures. While the first day of school can hold more unexpected stops and starts than a game of Simon Says, preparing your child for school builds confidence and starts the year on the right foot.
1. Liven and Tidy Up Study Spaces
With cyber school, learning happens everywhere. Your child’s workspace can be a bedroom desk, a corner of the living room or your kitchen table – anywhere that your learner feels comfortable and productive with minimal distractions.
Of course, any workspace can become a magnet for clutter and all the distractions and frustrations that come with it. The school year delivers a deluge of handouts and papers, but don’t just pile them on top of last year’s mess. Clean out last year’s papers from your student’s folders and learning space, and delete old files from your computer’s hard drive or cloud-based storage. It will help students clear their minds and start the new year feeling organized, uncluttered and ready to tackle new assignments.
While you’re at it, refresh your own filing system, whether electronic or in paper copy, to help you keep track of your student’s work. You both have a busy year ahead, but an organized outlook helps to keep things handy.
2. Create a Personalized System of Rewards
What’s your child’s favorite feel-good treat? Set aside time for an ice cream run, pizza for dinner or a TV break — whatever will motivate your learners through hard work and give them a reason to push through a lesson that is particularly difficult.
Stay positive, even when things don’t go as planned. Researchers say it’s important to keep an eye on long-term goals, rewarding children for progress made through diligence but avoiding bribes that merely patch over an underlying problem.
Although extrinsic rewards – the types that say, “if you achieve this, I’ll give you that” – have their place in motivating children to stick with a task, intrinsic rewards can have lasting benefits. According to a University of Harvard study, an intrinsic reward is a good feeling that comes with accomplishment or hard work. It takes practice to cultivate intrinsic rewards, but it can be done by linking your child’s studies to the things that motivate him or her. Volunteering and community service can be another way to help your child feel intrinsically rewarded by the joy of helping others.
3. Make New Goals
The start of each semester is a good time for fresh resolutions. Set goals, then help yourself and your child to follow them by using a giant whiteboard, a wall-hanging graphic organizer or a refrigerator calendar. Hang it in a place you can’t miss. Make these goals SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. For an added dimension, get in touch with your creative side and post sayings that inspire your student around the workspace.
Setting and achieving goals gives children many benefits. It improves self-image, increases awareness of strengths and weaknesses, creates successes to celebrate, separates reality from wishful thinking, builds responsibility and improves decision-making.
Research has found that learning to set goals helps children find direction and purpose, clarify and focus on things important to them, take a more active role in their future and experience the personal satisfaction of reaching a goal.
4. Shop for School Supplies Efficiently and Smartly
You just spent how much at the office supplies store? Shopping for school supplies can be hard on the pocketbook and draining on the psyche. When you’re buying back-to-school necessities, try these tips for a simplified search that also gets the best bang for your buck.
List everything you and your child need. Pay close attention to the teacher’s back-to-school list. Remember those things that are unique to a cyberlearning household, including motivational treats and items that make the workspace comfortable.
- Shop your own closet. Round up everything you already have, and cross those items off the list.
- Plan a supply swap to trade items that you and your friends no longer need.
- Shop garage sales, thrift shops and consignment stores for gently used clothes and supplies.
- Watch for sales and coupons. Follow your favorite stores and coupon sites on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Look for savings on the big-ticket items, but don’t waste precious time scrounging to save a few cents on a tube of glue.
5. Prepare for the New Schedule Early
The back-to-school sleep schedule presents a difficult adjustment, but dipping your toes in slowly makes it easier. Start getting ready for the earlier sleep schedule at least two weeks before the first day of school by adjusting your child’s bedtime in 10-minute increments. Psychology Today recommends getting plenty of exercise because it tires out the body (leading to better sleep), causes serotonin to kick in and increases strength and resilience. Students will wake up on the first day ready to go.
For sound back-to-school sleep, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that kids and teens keep regular bedtimes, even on weekends, to regulate their circadian rhythms. A relaxing bedtime routine helps kids wind down. The sleep environment should be cool, quiet and dimly lit. The bedroom should be an electronics-free zone, and your child should stop using electronic media one hour before bedtime.
6. Keep Your Expectations Realistic
Here’s how you imagine the first day of school: Your child bounces out of bed, breakfast graces the table on time, and everyone sits down for the first lesson eager and ready to learn.
Here’s how it really happens: Your child refuses to get up, the toast burns, and you’re scrambling to find your login information with seconds to go before the first live lesson starts.
Just because the real world doesn’t match your fantasy, it doesn’t make you a bad parent, psychologists say. Real life will never go perfectly, so manage expectations by focusing on what you want your child to get from the first day of school and the entire school year. Maybe not every element lined up perfectly, and scraping off the charred part of the toast will never make it edible, but your child got value out of the day. As long as you’ve prepared as well as you can, you’ll be equipped for life’s surprises and still get your child’s school year off to a rousing start.
7. Create a Positive Attitude About School
Parental attitude is one of the most important factors in a child’s school performance, educators say. Parents who are positive about school pass on that belief to their children. Parents who make it clear, by words or actions, that they hated school or don’t value education give children the same negative ideas.
Parents can create a positive attitude by sharing stories about the good that education brought to their lives, including a broader array of career opportunities. Without imposing excess pressure, parents should set high expectations and encourage their children’s capabilities.
If your child struggles in school it’s important to get help, but always make your child feel a high school diploma and success after graduation are definite. Foster a growth mindset, letting your child know he or she can become smart and successful through hard work, instead of giving in to the fear that they will never be good at the subjects that are hardest for them.
How to Beat the Back-to-School Blues This Summer
When your child’s school is the right fit, the back-to-school blues can be a thing of the past. Children are born learners, but if learning is a drag or the school atmosphere is frightening, it’s only natural that they’ll dread the first day, and every day after that.
At CCA, learning is dynamic and personalized to each student’s capabilities and passions. Bullies are not tolerated. Exploration is the norm. Your child can delight in learning again. Prepare your child for the new school year at Commonwealth Charter Academy. Find out more about what our personalized learning platform has to offer by reaching out to us today.