Schooling has been far from normal for kids recently. Here are some surefire ways to make sure back-to-school is as smooth as possible this year.
Back-to-school is always a hectic time, even when the world isn’t in the throes of a pandemic. As most kids gear up to go back in the classroom, parents are probably wondering how to prepare for what may be another unpredictable year. Read on for 10 tips for this school year.
1. Get organized
An obviously crucial step, to be sure, but one that’s easily thwarted by procrastination. Give yourself at least a week or two before the school year starts to help your child organize their new supplies and even pack their backpack with them to be sure they know where everything is.
2. Familiarize kids with their environment
Many facilities are open to teachers and faculty before the school year begins. Check with your school to see if you can bring your child in for a tour of the building so that they don’t feel lost on their first day. You can also use this opportunity to find out more about meals. Is there free breakfast? Where can you find the cafeteria menus? What’s in the vending machines?
3. Establish a sleep routine
Consider limiting or barring screen time an hour or so before bed. If your child has trouble falling asleep, invest in a sound machine, nightlight, or other sensory devices that may help them relax. This is another step that’s best taken a few weeks before your child’s first day.
4. Create a study space
It’s easier for kids to get into a routine with homework if they have designated space for doing it. So find somewhere in your home—preferably away from screens—where they can unpack their assignments and get into the zone.
5. Review safety procedures
This is a big one—throughout their day, kids are navigating everything from traffic to bullies to various drills.
No matter how your kid gets to school, find classmates along their route they can travel with. There’s safety in numbers; plus, it’s comforting for kids not to go to school alone. If they’re walking, biking, or taking the bus, make sure to review traffic safety with them and consider investing in outerwear, a bike helmet, or sneakers that are brightly colored so they’re highly visible to motorists.
Bullying is an age-old issue that’s only become worse with social media. If your child is being bullied, teach them how to confidently set boundaries and walk away. Additionally, make sure they have a trusted adult at school they feel comfortable turning to. If your child is the bully, work quickly with family and faculty to identify ways to nurture more empathetic behavior. If your child is a bystander, encourage them to support victims—this could be going with them to speak to a teacher or inviting them to hang out after school.
There are countless drills performed in schools (fire, tornado, active shooter, and more) that can be pretty upsetting for kids. Talk to teachers about how they’re presenting these drills to students. If need be, develop a supplementary conversation to have with your kids at home about the importance of paying attention and remaining calm.
6. Ask kids how they’re doing
Between the safety concerns mentioned above, homework, extracurricular activities, and more, kids can get just as stressed out as their parents, and “What happened at school today?” isn’t exactly the most engaging question. Instead, take time to ask your child specific, open-ended questions about their wellbeing. For instance, ask them how they’re getting along with their new teacher, what homework they struggle with most, or how you can help them reserve time for a bit of fun.
7. Set a weekend schedule
Speaking of fun—Saturdays and Sundays are just as important as schooldays. You should carve out time for kids to complete any homework that’s due Monday, so they’re not cramming every Sunday evening. Also, aim to give your kids a healthy balance of family time, friend time, and alone time.
8. Praise more than just grades
Grades are important, of course, but they’re not everything. Some kids don’t do well on tests. Others excel in “soft” skills that aren’t necessarily measured by grades. Help your child expand their self-confidence by complimenting and rewarding things such as time spent studying, their ability to think creatively, or their willingness to help out around the house.
9. Nurture well-roundedness
Since grades aren’t everything, find ways for your child to feel accomplished outside of the classroom. Uncovering talent in athletics, music, art, or computers can help kids feel more confident in school. This is why our coding classes are taught 1:1, so that our Guides can better understand what makes your child tick and how to help them succeed.
10. Take care of yourself
You know what they say: Put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else. Your kids will have a much harder time focusing and succeeding if you’re a ball of stress bouncing around the house. Prioritize “me time” so that you can do your best to be communicative, open-minded, relaxed, and loving with your children.