It's that time of year again, back to school time! Before you break out the backpacks and school supplies, ask yourself if you and your child are fully prepared for the upcoming year. With a little planning, you can make going back to school simple and stress free. Here are four easy tips from YFS Program Director and Licensed Social Worker, Katie Demmler, to make the transition easier.
1. Become familiar with your child's school.
Whether your child is returning to the same school or starting a new one, it's always important to know about any upcoming changes.
- Is there a new principal, school counselor, teacher(s), etc.?
- Is there a before/after-school program?
- Who are your child's teachers?
- Will your child be provided lunch? Will they need a packed lunch? Can they buy lunch?
Most schools are open 2-4 weeks prior to the start of school. Stop by and see what the school is like, call, or check the school website.
2. Purchase school supplies.
Your child's grade level (K-12), will determine the type of supplies needed. Some schools send out a supply list a couple of weeks before the school year begins. If not, standard school supplies can be found at the following stores:
- Wall Mart
- Office Depot
During the month of August, these stores often provide free school supply lists for their customers, arranged by grade level.
3. Establish a routine.
During the summer, most children stay up late and sleep in. By developing a bedtime routine, your child will be less resistant to the early morning wake-up calls to get ready for school.
- 2 weeks before school starts, have your child go to bed 30 minutes earlier at night and get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning.
- 1 week before school starts, have your child go to bed an hour earlier at night and get up an hour earlier in the morning.
- A few days before, have your child organize their backpack and set out their outfit for the first day.
Remember that young children need 10 - 12 hours of sleep each night, so schedule accordingly.
A healthy eating routine is also important. Children should be getting balanced meals throughout the day, with a variety of fruits, vegetables, dairy, proteins, and grains.
4. Have a great first day!
The first day of school is a big day for you and your child. This is the time to instill confidence and start the year off on the right foot.
- If possible, exchange contact information with the teacher. The teacher should provide you with a copy of a lesson plan or syllabus that gives you an idea of what will be taught throughout the year.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. Teachers are there to work with you to ensure your child will succeed.
After the first day of school, spend time with your child and establish a homework routine.
- Will your child do his homework as soon as he gets home?
- Will he need a break to participate in a recreational activity before staring homework?
- Is there an incentive for finishing homework early?
By creating an organized environment and maintaining a positive attitude throughout the transition, you and your child will be set up for a successful school year.
Focus on the Family (www.family.org)
Back to school preparation by: Carrie Shrier, Michigan State University Extension