If your child has enjoyed a leisurely summer of trips to the pool, sleeping in, hanging out with friends and operating on a more relaxed pace than during the school year, you both may be dreading the end of summer, when the backpacks come back out and the routine is back in full swing. Don’t fret, however. There are a number of things you can do to prepare for a new school year. During the last few weeks leading up to the first day of school, you can help your child make a smooth transition from summer brain to school brain by following these tips:
Move back the clocks. Gradually adjust bedtime and wake-up time to be more consistent with a typical school year schedule. If the evening routine has gotten out of whack during the summer, attempt to re-establish some semblance of structure—a set dinnertime, bedtime and reading time will help your child begin to get back into a school-year frame of mind.
Load up the backpack. Pull out those school supply lists and head out shopping—and bring your child along. Many teachers provide classroom lists before the school year begins to ensure each student arrives on the first day of school equipped with the tools and supplies they will need. Don’t forget to restock the desks at home and have your child clean and organize his or her homework space to get it ready for regular use again.
Read up. If your child hasn’t been reading much this summer, the end of summer break is an ideal time to start. Take your child to the library once a week and re-establish a nightly reading routine, letting him or her choose the books. You might consider pulling out some of last year’s reading material or assignments (or even books that he or she has already read) as a refresher.
Write once a day. Find ways to incorporate writing into your child’s daily activities as school draws nearer. It may be difficult to convince a middle schooler to write a series of essays about summer vacation, but get creative. Write letters to the grandparents. Get your child to help you create a summer scrapbook about a special summer vacation or some fun family outings you’ve had together. Give your child a new journal for the brand new year and encourage him or her to start filling it with the things about which he or she is excited or nervous.
Set goals for a brand new year. Have your child think about and write down several goals for this school year. They can be academic objectives or other things—improving a grade or trying out for a sports team, for example. Talk about any challenges he or she faced last year and how to approach this year differently if needed. You could even establish some rewards for your child to earn if he or she meets small milestones along the path toward his or her goals.
Review last year’s work. If you have some of it saved, spend a little time each day reviewing math concepts, spelling words and the like from last year. Older students could review chapter summaries from their prior year textbooks to re-familiarize themselves with what they learned in the previous grade. Even 10 minutes a day will help refresh your child’s memory on what he or she knows.
Just a few small steps will help your child make a successful transition from vacation mode to school mode. With a little effort in the final few weeks of summer, your child will be mentally prepared—and ready to make it a great school year by the time the first bell rings.