Can you believe it is time for the kids to go back to school?
My bet is that most of them are excited — I can tell you from my experience that pretty much all parents are excited. That being said, help your children have the most successful school year ever. Here are some tips to help your efforts.
Definitely attend Open House. This is the best way for your child to get off to a positive start for the school year. Especially if your child is new to the school, or school in general.
Open House lets you and your child meet and greet their teacher(s), get a feel for the layout of the school, get supply lists for the year, learn about extracurricular activities, register for the PTA, and more.
In addition, if your child is reluctant about school, for whatever reason, Open House is the perfect way to get them excited and allay any fears they might have.
Talk to your child about your expectations. When children know how important their education is to you, they are much more likely to do their best and take their achievements seriously.
Make a plan when it comes to homework. Keeping in mind that every child is different, make a plan for when your child will do their homework and then stick with the plan.
When our children were quite young, we found that coming home from school, having a healthy snack, and then doing homework right away was the best thing. As they got older, that schedule had to change since they had after school activities and often didn’t get home from those until dinner or even after.
Get into a good nighttime routine now. Good habits are imperative for children. When our children were young, after homework was done, the kids were always outside playing for as long as possible.
Then dinner and baths/showers were next. Lastly, there was playtime with dad (while I cleaned the kitchen and folded clothes), reading time, and then off to sleepy land. We also used to tell the children they didn’t have to go to sleep right away, but they had to stay in their beds and could read if they wanted to.
Get into the habit of having your children lay out their clothes at night for the next day.
Nobody needs to be deciding what to wear that early in the morning! And there is nothing worse than fight-ing with a child first thing in the morning over clothes.
If your child brings lunch from home, always make lunch the night before. The only thing worse than fight-ing with a child over their clothing choice, is trying to hurriedly put together a school lunch box — especially if you have multiple children.
I remember making our four children’s lunches at night, and even though it wasn’t a fun chore, I was always so happy the next morning. That said, as soon as possible, encourage your children to make their own lunches — of course with supervision so they don’t pack an unhealthy lunch.
Help your children set goals. Academic goals don’t have to be “make all A’s,” but they can be goals to do the best they can, get to a certain reading level, or just be about reading certain books, etc.
This is also a great time to discuss an “open door” policy if they ever feel like they need extra assistance. One of our daughter’s often needed a math tutor. While this was difficult for her to admit she needed extra help, her tutors were always amazing and truly helped when we could not. Children need to know there is no shame in asking for help.
Don’t overstress your child with too many extracurricular activities. As parents, we always want our chil-dren to have as many experiences as possible. Some of us even feel guilty if we don’t offer lots of activities to our children — like we are depriving them.
Just remember that overloading children and not allowing them to have ample downtime can be harmful both mentally and physically. We all need time to decompress — even children. At one point, when we were raising our children, we had to have the “one-activity-at-a-time” rule.
Even though they complained, we felt it was the right decision when it came to balancing their school time, free time, and family time.
Strive to eat dinner together as a family. Of course this isn’t always possible, but try to make it a priority as many times during the week as possible. Family dinners are a great way to reconnect as a family and numerous studies show eating together helps children in an abundance of ways — academically and socially.
Good luck parents! My hope is all of you and your children have the best school year ever.
Adlen Robinson is an award-winning columnist and author of “Organic Food and Kitchen Matters.” You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org