If your child could use a little help getting back into the school swing of things, there are a number of simple things you can do to make the transition easier. "Take steps these final few weeks of summer to help your student prepare mentally and otherwise for a new school year," advises Eileen Huntington, co-founder of Huntington Learning Center. Huntington offers these tips to ready children for the first day and week of school:
Call up friends. If your child hasn't seen classmates from last year all summer, now is a great time to arrange a few activities with school friends. If you know students who will be in your child's class, encourage your child to reach out to them, too.
Make a school visit. Stop by the school at least once to let your child walk around and check out his or her new classroom, if possible. If your child has an opportunity to meet staff members and his or her new teacher (at back-to-school night or in another way), take advantage.
Go over the routine. If your summer routine has been relaxed, now is the time to remind your child how a typical school day will go. If needed, start enforcing a reasonable bedtime a few weeks before school starts. Hang a family schedule and/or calendar in a visible place.
Get the home organized. Keep hooks near the entry door to your home where your child can keep the backpack, jacket and other school gear. Have him or her organize his or her desk or homework area. Take your child shopping to restock school and organizational supplies for the home and the classroom. Don't forget to buy a new planner for him or her to use to stay on top of all obligations and assignments.
Do some refresher work. The final few weeks of summer, incorporate a little school work into your child's daily schedule, using workbooks or worksheets from last year to brush up on math, reading and other basics. To practice writing, have your child keep a daily journal on the things he or she did this summer. As you bump up bedtime, include reading in the nightly routine-letting your child choose books from the library.
Sit down to talk about goals. Goal setting can be a powerful tool. Talk with your child about the things that he or she would like to accomplish or change this school year-academic or otherwise. If your child had any difficulties last year, let him or her know that you are there to help and want to maintain open communication about school.
When it comes to preparing for back to school, a little can go a long way. "Back to school preparation is largely about getting in the right mindset," says Huntington. "Help your child prepare by talking positively about this coming school year and the good things to come. Remind your child of the best parts of school, and also let him or her know that you're always there to help problem solve when issues arise."