10 Habits to Develop for Back-to-School

By Huntington Learning Center

Although it might feel a little early to talk about back-to-school preparation while you’re still splashing around in a pool or gearing up for a family vacation, this is the perfect time to establish habits at home that will set your child up for success when it’s time to return to the classroom!

Bouncing back and forth between remote, hybrid, and in-person learning last year will likely make it more challenging for your children to get back into the swing of school things. Huntington has also seen COVID-19 learning loss and the summer slide affect students of all ages. Setting back-to-school habits now will make the transition to a school schedule easier, so you and your children can focus on getting back on track academically.

10 Back-to-School Habits to Start Now

Help your child get ready for a successful school year with these ten practical habits.

  1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep – A lack of sleep can impact a child’s academic performance in many ways. Not getting enough sleep can cause children to experience impaired memory, decreased attention, and reduced problem-solving skills. Sleep deprivation can also lead to irritability and behavioral problems inside and outside the classroom. How do you know if your child is getting enough sleep? ​The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) provides the following guidelines for recommended sleep durations, which has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
    • Children 5 years of age or younger should sleep 10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps).
    • Children 6-12 years of age should sleep 9-12 hours per 24 hours.
    • Teenagers 13-18 years of age should sleep 8-10 hours per 24 hours.
  2. Eat a Healthy Breakfast – There’s a reason why they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Eating a healthy breakfast before school is linked to improved concentration, better test scores, and increased energy. We completely understand the morning rush, but there are quick ways to squeeze in a healthy breakfast. Real Housemoms offers some great breakfast ideas for kids that are easy to make and will rev up their brains here. Practice for the school rush now by testing out these breakfast options over the summer.
  3. Create a Study and Homework Space – If you’ve been working from home during the pandemic, you probably know the value of having a dedicated workspace. The same holds true for your children. Creating an inviting and organized space for your children to study and do homework will put them in the right frame of mind to do well in school. Here are some tips to help your children create a space where they can efficiently do their schoolwork.
    • Pick a space based on your child’s study style – If your student works better in a quiet environment, then make sure the workspace is away from the hustle and bustle of the house. If your child prefers to be around the rest of the family while doing work, then set aside an area in the kitchen or living room.
    • Choose good lighting – Make sure the space has overhead lighting or purchase a desk lamp to light up your child’s computer and desk surface.
    • Make it comfortable – You want your child to feel comfortable enough in the space to sit for an extended period to study, but not so comfortable that they will want to take a nap instead of doing work.
    • Stock up on supplies – A desktop caddy will help to keep the space clutter-free and make it easy for your child to grab needed pencils, pens, rulers, etc.
    • Add a bulletin board – Displaying work your child did well on is a great way to keep the motivation up! Plus, you can hang reminders for upcoming assignments and reference sheets.
  4. Encourage Reading – Did you know reading daily improves comprehension and student performance? It’s important for children of all ages to stay engaged with reading throughout the summer so that they don’t lose critical skills for the return to school. You can make reading fun for your child by allowing them to pick their own books, introducing them to a book series, or setting up a book club with friends. It’s also important to lead by example. Talk to your child about the book you are reading and explain what you love about your reading time.
  5. Make Time for Exercise – The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition recommends that children and adolescents ages 6-17 years do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. You might be thinking, “That makes sense, but what does it have to do with back-to-school?” The answer is a whole lot! According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical activity has an impact on cognitive skills such as concentration and attention, and it also enhances classroom attitudes and behaviors, all of which are important components of improved academic performance.Helping your children to get physically fit will enhance their brain power for the school year. There are tons of exercise activities you can do with your child, such as:
    • Obstacle courses
    • Swimming
    • Hiking
    • Dancing
    • Sports
  6. Pick Extracurricular Activities – After-school activities are an important part of academic and social development for kids. You want to make sure that your child has enough time to participate in an extracurricular activity, while also being able to study and do homework. Now is a great time to talk about activity options and lay out a plan for the year. If your child plays a sport, that will likely be enough to juggle with school during the season. During off-season, though, explore some academic clubs your school offers such as robotics, band, or choir. You can also see if your child is interested in trying swimming, martial arts, dance, art lessons, or a cooking class. Keep in mind that extracurricular activities are a great way to give colleges an insight into who your student is when it comes time to apply.
  7. Establish a Calendar – The school year gets busy quick! Take the time now to create a calendar that will help you and your child manage your routine. You can pencil in important dates and events for the school year, and once you’re back in the classroom, add due dates for assignments. Plus, the process of creating a calendar together will teach your child key organizational skills. If you have teenagers, you can try creating a family calendar in Google.
  8. Set Goals – Goal setting is an excellent habit to encourage in all students. The process of creating goals helps your children to think about what they want to accomplish in the school year. At Huntington, we always recommend following the SMART goals framework: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. If you want to learn more about how to develop SMART goals, click here to view our free Huntington How-to webinar.
  9. Reduce Screen Time – Health experts say screen time at home should be limited to two hours or less a day. Setting rules that limit your children’s’ time watching TV or playing video games now, will help to make sure they are spending their time wisely when the school year starts. The We Can! Program from the National Institutes of Health offers an extremely helpful chart to track your family’s screen time. Click here to print a copy.
  10. Get Ahead – Setting your children up for success in school requires you to know where they stand academically. Once you understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses, you can get ahead for the school year. All our programs at Huntington start with an Academic Evaluation that helps us unlock your child’s potential by pinpointing individual needs. To learn how we can help your child build confidence and motivation for the new school year, click here.

Incorporating these habits into your daily routine will ensure your children puts their best foot forward during the first few weeks of school. And we’re all thankful that foot will likely be in-person this year! For more back-to-school tips, follow us on social media!