It feels like summer temperature-wise, but students head back to school soon. No matter what grade our kids are entering, we worry about their education and success.
As parents, how can we best prepare our children for the physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual challenges that await them in the 2018-19 school year?
Get your child excited. Talk about school well before the first day. Ask them what they’re most looking forward to. Discuss practical arrangements, such as carpooling and after-school pickups.
Say a short prayer together for friends, teachers, and the many things your child will face during the upcoming school year.
Starting to discuss the school day schedule means less stress for you and gives your child an opportunity to get used to the idea of going back to school. Getting a head start on clothes and supply shopping will guarantee kids and parents are both well prepared.
After each school day check to see how your kid’s day has gone. When did they feel close to God? What made them feel God was a long way away?
Get good rest
During the summer kids are likely to stay up late, stay in bed until late morning, and otherwise juggle their sleep schedule. Setting up regular bedtime and wake-up hours will cut down on first-day stress and boost their capacity for learning.
Look on the bright side
Children can be anxious about their first day, but if you remind them about the field trips, projects, and other fun activities they enjoyed in the past they can feel more relaxed.
In addition, visiting the school together and escorting children to their classrooms, the bathrooms, the sports fields, library, and other key campus locations will make them more comfortable.
Reassure them that God is with them throughout their school day.
The right supplies
Though it’s been decades since I was in school, I remember fondly the many back-to-school shopping trips my mother and I used to take at the end of each summer. I loved shopping for school supplies and picking out my new lunch box and those experiences made me mentally prepared for the school year.
Allowing kids to choose their own folders, binders, and backpacks can give them a sense of control over their learning environment.
Read and read some more
Reading with your child is an invaluable way to spend quality time together. Story time just before bed in late summer can get children thinking about the kinds of books they’ll read when school begins.
Open the lines of communication
Teachers can alert you to any emotional, social, or academic difficulties they perceive in your child at school. Conversely, you should notify teachers immediately about changes that could affect your child’s behavior, such as a recent move, a parent getting a new job, or major illness affecting a family member.
Make homework a team effort
Helping kids with their homework is a good way to show your concern for their school experiences. Displaying their projects on the fridge or elsewhere in your home keeps learning top-of-mind.
Participating in your child’s school activities – whether it’s joining the PTA, volunteering as a room parent or even becoming a scout leader – allows you to support your child’s learning experience.
I served several years on my children’s elementary school site council and enjoyed the opportunity to meet other involved parents as I served the school community. When I look back I realize it was a highlight of my volunteer work in the kids’ early school years.
Your own positive attitude can be contagious. If your voice and manner are excited and you are enthused about starting the school year, your kids will relax and welcome the new experience.