This summer has gone by so fast and in just 2-3 weeks school starts again. Whether your kids are in high school or just starting preschool, it is important to help them transition from the lazy days of summer to the busy fall filled with school, homework and extracurricular activities. We asked teachers, parents and owners of Abby Tutors, Ron & Marilyn Peters for some back to school tips.
Q: How you can you prepare kids for the transition from summer to back to school?
A: Before school begins, get your kids started on a schedule of sorts, if you don’t already have them on one. For instance, get them ready for early morning academics by having them do some type of school work right after breakfast. A good reminder for parents is that during the school year, have your kids do homework right after they’ve eaten and are ready for an activity while their minds are fresh and they aren’t hungry or tired.
Start with easy questions and work your way up to the more challenging questions. This can be done for the last 10 days to two weeks of the holidays. Children can do some practice homework from the internet or last year’s textbooks. It may be more enjoyable for them if they invite a friend to join them sometimes. I’m sure the friend’s parents won’t mind their child prepping for school.
You may also want to assign your own homework like a daily journal of their summer activities. Give them guidelines on the length or subject so they will be used to following them in school.
Taking your children shopping for school supplies and clothes is another way to help them get in the mood for returning to school. Discuss beforehand what the essentials are and what budget you are working with. Often children are not aware of the costs of things, but talking about it at home ahead of time helps them realize why some things are not an option. You can give them the option to buy some wanted items themselves so they will appreciate them and will probably take better care of them.
Q: What is the best way to adjust young children’s sleep schedule so they wake up on time?
A: You need to slowly start waking your kids up earlier and also adjusting their bedtimes so they get enough sleep. Do so in 15 minute increments about two weeks before school starts.
Again, have your children in on the planning, and they probably won’t balk at the changes. It is important to plan ahead when making changes, and to include the people involved in the decision making.
Q: How can you help kids entering a new school? (Kindergarten, Middle School, High School)
A: I think it’s important to remember that all kids are different and will need varying degrees of support in entering a new school situation. However, with even the most outgoing and enthusiastic, “school is made for me” type of students, there are at least two things a parent can do to make this adjustment a positive change.
The first item on a parent’s agenda would be to take some time to talk to your child about some of the expectations they have about their new school, teacher and classmates. Discussing realistic expectations can help your child overcome some of the adjustments that come with going from a familiar set of surroundings to a brand new environment that will doubtless have a few surprises in it that are both positive and negative.
The other strategy is to take a tour of the school beforehand so the child is better prepared. Try to meet the teacher or principal if you can so they can answer your child’s questions.
If your child is very anxious, let the teacher know in advance so they can arrange for a school buddy for the first week.
Q: What are some good snacks that kids love that will keep their minds sharp throughout the day?
A: Fresh fruit and vegetables are great for refreshment (because they have some natural juice) and they are packed with much needed nutrients. Nuts and seeds mixed with dried fruit will stave off hunger, and provide natural sugars when they are craving something sweet.
Crackers and cheese provide energy food during the school day of protein and carbohydrates. Change the type of crackers and cheese each week or two so it keeps it an interesting snack too.
Sometimes small children enjoy their snacks in shapes. Have your children cut out cheese with cookie cutters the night before and help pack their lunches. They will more likely to eat the healthy food if they help prepare it and pack it.
Q: What are some-back-to-school essentials that parents sometimes overlook?
A: This varies from grade to grade. In the primary grades parents need to find out as soon as possible if there are any routines that your child should be aware of before school starts. You don’t want your child to be surprised if everyone else knows how to sing the national anthem or brings in a news item to share during current events.
In the higher grades, you need to find out if the extra-curricular teams and music groups are being formed during the first week of school. If that is something your child would like to be involved in, you should check with the new school office or ask for the last school newsletter for important dates like registration and try-outs. You want your child to have all of the necessary information to be ready to start with everyone else and know what’s happening in these areas of interest.
Q: When do you think it’s time to get professional help with your child’s school work?
A: If your child is struggling academically you should first look for help that is available at your school.
For instance, does your school have a “Homework Club” that meets regularly outside of the school day? Are there testing services you can take advantage of through your school’s learning assistance department? Does your school offer a peer tutoring service? Perhaps your child’s teacher offers extra help to small groups after or before school. Are there changes you can make at home that will help your child’s progress at school? Perhaps you need to ensure your child has a homework routine better established with a place and a time set aside each day after school that doesn’t get usurped by a TV show, computer game, or friend’s text message.
If you have investigated all of these possibilities and your child is still struggling to keep up with the rest of the class, not meeting your expectations, or simply wanting to increase achievement significantly, then it is probably time to check out a reputable professional tutoring service.
Some things to check out in a tutoring service:
- Do they get the kind of results you and your child are looking for?
- Is it operated by educational professionals who understand the curricular and subject needs of your area?
- Do they have educational experts working for them that are not only clear on the objectives of the curriculum, but have been trained to deliver a program of services that will result in success for your child?
- Do they offer competitive rates?
These were some of the questions we felt we had to be able to answer positively at Abby Tutors and our customers have been pleased with their results.