Going back to school is not as easy as it seems. It is useful to have a back to school preparation checklist 2016 so that the whole operation is as smooth as possible. Being calm and supportive should be the basic foundations you will be building on. There are usually practical issues to sort out first, routines to get going again and above all, a positive approach towards a new beginning so that the child can face the social and academic challenges with confidence.
- Talk to your child about his or her attitudes about going back to school. There may be doom and gloom that the holidays are over and there will be some fears as well about new teachers, and unfamiliar subjects and environments. This is usually the case when a new school is involved or they are transitioning from elementary to middle school. Listen to those but stress the benefits of school and the joys of learning as well as opportunities for making new friends. Encourage your child to set realistic goals such as getting better at reading or math. Setting up a star checklist can be a good idea to keep track of progress and also review adjustments as the year develops. Flexibility is a great ally here because the kid may feel less of the pressure although there should always be a practical reason why one project is abandoned in favour of another. Watch the video to get a better idea of what middle school and high school transitioning can involve.
- Buy school supplies early. Get your kid involved in this and plan some shopping trips well beforehand so that there is no last minute panic. If they are old enough, they will be happy to choose a lunch box or their own backpack. It also means that you have studied the whole list of going back to school requirements such as transport arrangements and school calendars with your child if they are old enough. It is a great way of getting them involved and also eases them psychologically into preparing for the new daily routine. Stress that a proper routine is going to make life so much easier and help them to cope with school tasks, homework, events and other aspects of school life. There is nothing like having one place where you can get all these supplies easily online.
- Get your child involved in setting up homework areas so that they can choose where they want to sit. Younger kids will have top study in open access areas where supervision is possible. Get them involved in games to start practising finishing tasks on time. Timers are very useful for this.
- Start getting into the school routine early on so that last minute panic on the first day back is avoided. This means getting them used to the new bedtime schedules and also getting up earlier. You can do it in quarter hour slots so that they wake up earlier and with a more gradual approach. Talking about this helps enormously.
- Reach out to the teachers at any open event so that you know what their expectations are and also you can familiarize yourself with their goals and objectives. Tour the school and if your child already knows the layout, get him or her to show you around. You can also find out how the teacher likes to communicate, e.g. if they like to receive emails or not. Many teachers hate those. It is always better to find out beforehand.
- I know lots of Italian parents who carry their kids’ backpacks for them because the textbooks are so heavy. They are doing that to avoid straining developing muscles and joints so it makes sense except that most kids are on their own when actually going to school. The best rules are to ensure that no child should be carrying more than 20% of their body weight and that the actual pack should not be too distant from their back – a leeway of not more than two inches is usually recommended. Also check to see if they have padded backstraps and back. Encourage kids to watch out for backpack etiquette so that they do not leave them in the middle of aisles or fail to watch out when they swing them on or off their shoulders on the school bus.
- Renew your connections. Get ready in time to organize the carpool or play dates again but do so a week or so before school starts. This is a great way to start your kid reconnecting with school friends and also avoiding last minute panic if your kid is suddenly stranded. This is why it is a great idea to get a carpool app for your smartphone so that everyone is connected and are in sync with their iPhones and there are no mess ups.
- Are your kids overscheduled? Making sure that mealtimes are family together time and that you actually have time to connect with your kids is really important. Building up the school schedule and after school activities needs to take into account that the child may get overstressed. It is when your family car turns into a taxi then you may need to take a step back and cancel some of those activities.
- If your child needs to use the Internet for homework purposes and relaxation, then you need top consider what are the safest browsers for kids online so that they are always secure and you do not have to keep checking which is extremely annoying for kids anyway. There are some excellent pre-screened sites and browsers which perform this function very well for all age groups.
- Practise makes perfect! It is a great idea to do a few dry runs before the actual school semester begins. Especially going to bed and getting up earlier. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends this strongly and it can save many a headache on that crucial first day. They also advise parents to make sure that proper safety measures are adopted whether the child is travelling by school bus, car, and bicycle or walking.
- There are lots of studies that show that a good, healthy breakfast will help kids perform better at school. The same goes for healthy school lunches. Well worth giving this some thought and planning ahead rather than rushing around in the morning. Also I really like the suggestions made in this post about how to get kids eating fruit while dealing with their requests for unhealthy snacks.
11. Posters, checklists and charts are great ways to keep all the family on track. These are especially useful for going through the routine and making sure that certain items are regularly checked off. This can help greatly with kids with ADHD or other challenges. I love the pdf simple one page list from Mom Agenda about how to have a great checklist- starting weeks beforehand. You should have started already!
12. Planning for what happens after school gets out is also important. Make sure that there is a well established routine set up so that the child can be allowed to stay home or go to an after shool program.
13. Cut back on screen time. A lot of time in the holidays is spent watching TV and being online and playing video games. It is a good idea to start weaning kids off these gradually as Day X approaches. Try to get them involved in reading and other quieter activities so that the shock of sitting in a classroom for hours will be alleviated.
14. With middle school kids, it is always a good idea to encourage good study habits and these will have been instilled from when they were in elementary school. But at middle school level, they will have to be more independent at doing research reports as well so it is always good to know that lots of public libraries have homework centers where help is available from tutors. You can keep an eye by asking what salient points she has decided to make in the report. It is keeping a watchful and encouraging eye without actually doing the work for them!
15. Get involved with the school, if you have free time. The kids of parents who are more involved in school volunteering and other worthy causes are those who are likely to do better academically, as many research projects show.
16. Other back to school preparation checklists can be found here to get you going and find out what would suit your family best. The bottom line is that guidelines, rules and boundaries about homework, bedtime and waking up time are all discussed with your kids so that they are fully involved, depending on their age, of course.
Featured photo via Flickr
US Department of Education