Tackling Back-to-School Jitters
The beginning of a new school year isn’t always easy for parents or children. From new teachers to new friends, new schools to new schedules, the anticipation of school starting up again can often overwhelm children and make it difficult for them to get excited about the school. August is the perfect time to ease anxiety that can often accompany back-to-school blues into back-to-school bliss.
While summer fun is at an all-time high, take advantage and stock up on some great resources guaranteed to help prepare everyone for a successful academic year.
Everything Old is New Again Frugality is in. Don’t let back-to-school sales promotions get the best of you or your wallet. Instead, try turning something old into something new and inspire children to harness the comfort of all things familiar while infusing a little newness into them. Pull out an old backpack, lunch box or pencil case and invite your child to be creative. Give them color-safe markers, stickers or puffy paint and get them to turn trusty old school tools into new school must-haves that reflect the summer fun they’ve been having. Remind them that just like the seasons change and bring new experiences, so too will a new teacher or classmates. Change is a constant, and learning how to adapt and accept change at an early age will help them throughout life.
Tour the Route and School Starting at a new school can be intimidating. We can all remember those weeks leading up to school. The fear of the unknown, changing classes, and dealing with multiple educators can be daunting for children. Remind your children that they are certainly not the only ones who are uneasy about setting off for school on the first day. Let them know that other children may feel the same way and it is okay. It’s important to make sure that children are familiar with the new route, new routine and the new school environment. Take a practice run of the schedule. Make it special and surprise your child with an afternoon filled with their favorite activity.
Once you’ve set the stage for fun, if your child is expected to take the bus to school, walk them to the bus stop and have them practice the route a few times without you. If they resist or think it’s silly, add an incentive or create a little entertainment with a friendly race to the bus stop among siblings or their neighborhood friends. It’s also wise to point out landmarks along the way. Jingles, rhymes or songs are the perfect remedies to ease a child’s nerves and make them feel like you’re nearby. When pointing out markers on the route, stop and make them memorable by adding a funny reminder such as, “Yellow house, green house, blue house, bus stop!”
If your child is attending a new school, it’s also wise to add a tour of the school into the practice run. Doing this will get your child excited about school activities that he or she enjoys, such as the gymnasium, track fields, libraries or music rooms. If possible, try to schedule the tour with the principal, a guidance counselor or teacher so that any unanswered questions your family has can be addressed prior to the beginning of the school year.
Work Out the Brain and Master the Basics When seeking to master math or reading skills, repetition and practice are at the root of success for any child. While summer is certainly meant to give children a break from their usual studies or routine, Kumon has seen that children who continue practicing reading, writing and math in the summer have a much easier time adjusting to the full-time school schedule in September.
If you’re like most parents, juggling fun and learning isn’t always easy. If there have been a few weeks in the summer where your child has spent more time playing than learning, use the month of August to get them back into a routine that is more closely aligned with the fall schedule. Set a time for reading each night. Make it fun and ask your child to read a book that correlates to a summer activity you shared, such as going to the beach, riding horses or camping. Reading is a great way to establish “together time.” Enhance these special learning moments by taking the reading session outdoors on a picnic or under a tree. To make sure your child comprehends everything he or she is reading, try to schedule the reading time before dinner so that conversation at mealtime is filled with questions about the story.
Math drills are important to hone before the new school year sets in because children often won’t have time to re-learn in the classroom. So don’t forget to add a math challenge into the weeks leading up to the new school year. It can be anything from a funny word problem that highlights a summer memory or multiplication tables that highlight how many hours of free time your child will have despite their fall school schedule.
Change isn’t easy, but sometimes knowing that everyone around us is going through change as well will make it easier. Remember to listen and validate your child’s fears about the new school year. Doing this reinforces the idea that your child isn’t going through this alone and that the people closest to him or her understand the mixed emotions that come with new beginnings.
As the school year comes into focus, it’s hard to stay connected with our children. August is a month to foster stronger connections and set a strong foundation for academic success in the new school year while still savoring the joys of summer.