Back to school. Whether you approach this time of year with anticipation or dread, it’s about to happen. New teachers and classes, different rules and expectations, leave children and parents overwhelmed with excitement and anxiety. Below are six ways to send your child back to school with success.
Supplies – Most schools provide a list of essentials for each child to bring on the first day of class. Make sure your child has exactly what is requested, and save enough cash for those supply needs that crop up the first week of class. Stock up on all types of paper, writing utensils, art supplies, notebooks and folders during the back to school sales. Gather an assortment of calculators and reference books. There is nothing that gives confidence like the satisfaction of having just the right tool for the job.
Communication – While summer is still in session, visit the school and meet the secretary and principal. Limit yourself to brief introductions, but offer your support to help make a great school year. Leave your name, telephone and email so the school can contact you if they need help. The first week of school, write the teacher a letter introducing your child, and briefly listing strengths and weaknesses. Share important information such as family situation and medical needs. Finally, tell the teacher you would like to meet during the second month of school to strategize ways to work together for your child’s education.
Habits – Children usually crave routine. A couple of weeks before school, transition children to the schedule they will follow once the year begins. Send them to bed and have them get up earlier. Adjust mealtimes. Once school is in session, quickly establish routines for homework and chore. Make it a habit to prepare the next day’s clothes, lunches, and school gear each evening.
Orientation – Familiarize your child with the all the places she will be during the school day. Follow the bus or car pool route. Arrange a visit to the school before it begins. Practice the route into the building. Find the bathrooms, the library, and the lunchroom. If your child is in middle or high school, let them walk their schedule until they feel comfortable. See if there are volunteer opportunities that will help your teen to feel more at home in the maze of corridors that line most campuses.
Organization – Buy into the adage “a place for everything, and everything in its place”. A two drawer file cabinet works well as a center to organize a child’s school/home communication, backpacks, shoes, and homework. Each afternoon, school gear and shoes go in. Before bed, add clothes, bookbag, notes and homework for the next day. In the morning, everything is in one spot, and makes it easier for the child to get dressed and ready. (Our favorite way to organize is our own “PAC-kit” student planner!)
Love – Insensitive classmates, missed buses, forgotten homework and misunderstood math can make school a traumatic place. Shield your child by expressing your love over and over again. Tell her you love her. Give him a hug. Hide a love note or symbol in an Algebra book. Offer your time, your understanding, and your prayers. With the teacher as your partner, wrapping your children in love is the best way to spell a successful beginning to the school year.