There are some children who can’t wait to return to school, others who positively dread it, and many who are simply nervous about the unknown. Whatever your child’s position is, it’s important to take some time to help them prepare for the coming year. A little preparation goes a long way and will make those first few weeks of school less daunting—for you and your kids. If you’re wondering how to help your kids prepare for the new school year, here are six tips to help get you started:
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Engage in conversations with your children about the upcoming school year. Discuss their fears, goals, and overall thoughts on their return to the classroom. Ask questions. What do they have to look forward to when school begins? Are there any special snacks they’d like in their lunches? Encourage them to reflect on past years and identify any concerns they have. This will turn your child’s focus onto the impending school year and demonstrate to them that you care about their feelings surrounding the sometimes hard transition back. You may even want to share stories about your own experiences in school to make the conversation even more meaningful. When you talk with your child, remember that your main priority is to be a good listener. They don’t always need a solution, but they do need an ear and a safe space to discuss their worries. Let them know they’re heard.
2. Make back-to-school shopping fun
Show your kids that going out to buy new clothes and school supplies can be enjoyable. Make it a celebration by adding a special meal or activity so that the idea of “back to school” is associated with happy, positive feelings. Let them play an active role in the shopping, as well. Allow them to choose their folders and notebooks, and encourage them to pick clothes that’ll make them feel comfortable and confident. If they are feeling good about themselves, they’ll likely take that positivity with them to school.
Research shows that young children tend to forget a lot during the summer, so the more they routinely read, the better. Actively reading will also help make the transition to new assignments less challenging. In addition, there are tons of books that explore student life and serve as great conversation starters on the topic of heading back to school. Any stories with characters your child can relate to are useful in relieving first-day jitters and can provide them with a boost of confidence. Recommended for ages 3–9, Sofia Sanchez’ You Are Enough would be a great choice for a book to read with your child as they approach their first day back to school. It’ll empower them to embrace who they are as an individual and accept others for who they are, too.
4. Establish a homework routine
Take some time to discuss the issue of homework with your child, including figuring out the time of day that will be devoted to it (some kids are able to focus more in the morning, before school, whereas others are best tackling it right when they get home). Establishing a homework routine early on will lessen arguments about it later. Your children will be able to mentally prepare for their days, being aware of their responsibilities. It’ll also make clear what is expected of them, so there will be no surprises.
5. Set goals
Just like adults make New Year’s resolutions, our children can do the same for the coming school year. Ask them questions to discover the things they’d like to accomplish. Whether it be a better grade in history, running faster in P.E., or making more friends, encourage them to get started on achieving those goals right away. Talk about ways they can foster improvement in certain areas and offer them suggestions on how to execute their ideas.
6. Practice good sleep hygiene
Most good sleep habits tend to go out the window during summer. Kids stay up and sleep in. The sooner you start getting back into a routine, the easier it’ll be for your child to wake up for school in the morning. They’ll feel better with more rest and they will perform better in school. It’s a win-win. Learn more about how to get back into a good sleep routine for the school year.