Getting ready for back to school season doesn't have to be challenging for you or your child. First and foremost, remind your child how much there is to look forward to in the new year ahead — seeing friends again (and making new ones), fun new subjects to discover and explore, and so many more amazing experiences.
To encourage another successful school year, take time to create a game plan no matter what grade your child is going into this fall with these helpful tips:
1. Restart Routines
Kids need time to adjust, so provide a head start. About two weeks before school starts, make bedtime earlier and dust off the alarm clock. Aim to serve meals at approximately the same times your child will be eating throughout the school year, and set up time to brush teeth, get dressed, and pack up for school without rushing.
2. Go Over Ground Rules
Decide when and where your child will do homework. Be sure to cover tricky topics: Can they watch TV after they finish their work? How late can friends visit on school nights? When's the caffeine cutoff? What about chores? Establishing guidelines and going over them together will make sure you're on the same page once school's in session.
3. De-Stress Dressing
Let your child choose special first-day clothes — a souvenir shirt from a park you visited this summer, a new dress to match their best friend's, or anything they'd like and feel confident in. To avoid arguing over school-appropriate clothes, bring the fall wardrobe front and center. Replace sandals and swimsuits with socks, sneakers, and lightweight sweaters.
4. Develop a Game Plan — Together
Discuss goals for the upcoming year, triumphs from the year before, and some skills he would like to improve. Goals might include:
- Making new friends or sitting at a different lunch table every week
- Becoming captain of the chess team or a spelling bee finalist
- Making the honor roll
5. Keep Passions in Play
If your child became a weaving whiz at summer camp or a diving champ at the local pool, keep it going. Integrate new summer hobbies into the school year by finding after-school clubs or groups that will let them continue to do the cool new things they tried this summer!
6. Summon the Learning Spirit
Assign creative "homework" as summer wanes: Ask your child to identify a paw print in the park or photograph something that changes colors. Make family flashcards and quiz each other: What was the farthest you went from home this summer? What plans were rained out?
7. Take a Family Field Trip
Plan one last fact-packed trip to top off months of water parks and baseball games. You don't have to go far: Visit a nature sanctuary to learn about different plants and trees, or examine an old ship down at the docks.
8. Set Up a Homework Area
Create a quiet, well-lit space for study. Prevent first day anxiety by hauling out the necessities: backpack, dictionary, atlas, calculator, art supplies, paper, and pencils. Make it personal and fun, but free from distractions. Learn more helpful tips on what to do before reading and homework to set them up for success.
9. Sharpen Skills
Add more factual brain-bending activities into the everyday mix. Effective workbooks, Sudoku games, crossword puzzles, word searches, and trivia all encourage your child to sit still, focus, and complete a task from start to finish.
10. Go for a Test Run
Take a trip to school together if possible ahead of time and get familiar with their new classroom. Make sure to find the cafeteria, gym, theater, and library, and any other areas they'd like to see. It's also a good time to size up cubbies, try out lockers, and more to acclimate to their new surroundings and process everything ahead of time.