Before you know it, school will be back in session. Kids love summer, and while it might seem like the lazy days of summer will last forever, classes will be back in session before you know it. After performing school assemblies in New York, New Jersey, and surrounding areas, I have noticed that the beginning of the new school year can be challenging for some kids.
Readjusting to a structured day can be startling after weeks of care-free days. This blog article will outline ten simple strategies to make adjusting to the beginning of school easier, both for you and your child.
New School Year Tip #1: Get Your Child Back into ‘Learning Mode’
Probably the biggest difference between summer months and school days is the amount of structured learning that occurs. Many parents let their kids take the entire summer off from learning. The result? Children struggle to ‘get back into the game’ when it comes to learning and studying, and, even worse, the dreaded ‘summer slide’ – a measurable decline in their reading ability.
The solution is simple. During the summer, encourage your child to read. Reading books is one of the easiest ways to keep a child’s mind fresh and active during summer. Go to your local library with your child and check out some books today and pick up a schedule of their end-of-summer activities. I spend my summers performing reading-themed magic shows in public libraries, and I can attest to the extraordinary range of fun programming offered by the children’s librarians.
New School Year Tip #2: Take Your Child With You When Shopping for School Supplies
Some kids are more anxious than others about the new school year. If you are just moving to a new area, there is added pressure to quickly adjust to the new school year. Help your child feel a sense of ownership over the upcoming school days by bringing them with you when you go shopping for school supplies.
They can pick their favorite colors and feel more involved in the process. It’s a simple way to get them thinking about school instead of feeling ‘thrown into the deep end’ on that critical first day of school.
New School Year Tip #3: Get Your Child Excited About the New School Year
Talk to your child about the upcoming school year in glowing terms. “I’ll bet this year is going to be so much fun” and other comments from you will go a long way to helping a child feel excited about school rather than scared.
When transitioning from one grade to another, your child may be crossing certain milestones. Maybe this is the year your child starts moving from classroom to classroom for different periods. Or they will be in school a full day as a first grader instead of a half-day in kindergarten.
If you sound excited about school, your child will pick up on it and begin to model your behavior.
New School Year Tip #4: Re-Establish Bedtime
Do your kids stay up later during the summer? It’s fun to enjoy the longer days. But readjusting to getting up early can take some time. Start going back to regular bedtimes a week before school starts. Your child may not like it but, when school starts, they will adjust much better to the early morning wake-up.
New School Year Tip #5: Start to Establish a Bond with Your Child’s Teacher
Find out who your child’s teacher will be for the coming school year. If you’re able to have a conversation with the teacher, you can learn a little about their approach to teaching. As with Tip #3, if you begin talking about how much fun the new teacher will be, your child will sense your excitement.
Mention some of the fun things the teacher will be doing. If there are particularly fun-sounding games or learning exercises, talk about those things to your child. If the teacher has any specific expectations, you can start to prepare your child for those new rules as well.
New School Year Tip #6: Make Sure Your Child is Familiar with School
If you are moving from a school district in, say, suburban New Jersey to one in rural Connecticut, it will feel like an entirely different world to your child. There are new students, new hallways, new teachers, and new routines to learn.
Part of what causes a child to feel so apprehensive during the school year is the fear of the unknown. And moving to a new school district just ramps up that fear to a higher level. Help your child by familiarizing them with the layout of the school.
Call the school a couple of weeks before the first day and see if you can take a tour of the building with your child. Walking the hallways, peaking in the classrooms, saying a quick ‘hello’ to the principal will reduce some of your child’s nervousness.
Is the school playground open to the public during the summer? If so, consider making it a regular destination. Your child will associate the new school with the fun of the playground and – who knows? – they might meet some of their future classmates on the swing set!
New School Year Tip #7: Find Out if Your School Offers Orientation
This is closely tied to Tip #6. While just touring the school can be a big help, attending an actual orientation can go a long way to helping your child feel more comfortable with all of the new details they will have to learn.
New School Year Tip #8: Ask if You Can Walk Your Child to Class
Is this your child’s first time going to school? This can be a higher step for your child. Instead of just opening your car door and dropping them off, call the school ahead of time to see if you can walk your child to the classroom and hand them off to the teacher.
New School Year Tip #9: Practice Your Morning Goodbye
Does your child suffer from separation anxiety? Prepare for separation during school by finding reasons to be away from your child for short times during the days leading up to that first school day. Practice saying your goodbyes to your child.
Say something simple to your child like, “I’ll see you later today. Have a great time, I love you.” Practicing these routines will make it easier on your child so the shock of being apart from you for a whole day isn’t as strong. The key is to be warm and compassionate with your child without overdoing it.
If you get emotional and teary-eyed as you send your child off to school for the first time, they may (again) model your behavior and feelings.
New School Year Tip #10: Get as Much Done as Possible the Night Before
Those first few days of going back to school can be disorienting. You and your child may both forget important things. Lunches, school supplies, and other items are easier to forget during the morning bedlam.
Want an easy tip? Get as much done as you can the night before. Have book bags packed, lunches made, and clothes laid out. You’ll save on the confusion if there is less to do when you wake up.
Help Your School Help Your Child
Are you involved with your school’s PTA or PTO? I offer amazing assemblies programs on character education, the importance of reading, and bullying prevention. Check out my school assemblies to find out how I can help your school deliver important, impactful messages that will help your child’s school.