8 Tips for Back to School
Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson
Development & Learning
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If school hasn’t started yet for your children, it will soon. That means it’s time to shift from summer flexibility to a routine that can sustain learning.
Here are eight ideas to get the year off on the right foot.
Early to bed, early to rise. It’s still light late into the evening but getting up in time for a good breakfast, a relaxed send-off, and an unhurried walk to the bus stop requires getting to bed on time. Remember that children need at least 10 hours of sleep every night, so count back from the best time to arise and get kids into bed early enough to fit in 10 hours of shut-eye.
You are what you eat. Summertime lends itself to sugary sodas and lemonades, quick snacks, and sketchy meals. School time demands more. Now is the moment to cut out the junk food and stock the fridge and pantry with nutrient dense foods. Smart kids eat smart.
Sunshine works wonders. One joy of summer should continue straight into the school year: outdoor play. The best way to rejuvenate after a stressful day in the classroom is not to sit still even more in front of the TV or computer. The best way is to get out and play.
Accentuate the positive. Summer’s been a fun and relaxed time and the school year should be as relaxed as you can make it too. Students do better when they are unstressed and confident. So avoid making threats or voicing your own worries about your child’s success. Instead, keep things positive.
Slow down, do less. Starting a new school year is tiring. If a child is also starting a new season of soccer, starting a new class in Spanish, and starting a volunteer project in the community, it’s just too much. Let school be the centerpiece of August and September, not just one responsibility of many. Do less.
Establish strong study habits. Don’t wait for your child to fall behind. Get going right away with a daily review of what needs to be learned, practice time, or homework time. Make studying ordinary – a habit – not a chore.
Make a place for school work. Now is the time to clear off the kitchen table or locate a quiet study table and move the sports stuff off it. Putting summer away is hard, but setting up a space for homework is exciting and motivating. Let your child help you shop for pencils and other tools, a desk lamp, and even a cushion for the chair to make the place for school work special.
Include daily downtime. Make certain that not every moment of your child’s day is scheduled. Downtime is important for creative thinking and even for absorbing material that was learned earlier in the day. Let your child kick back and do nothing without hassle.
The school year kicks off with high hopes. Help those hopes come to reality with a little planning ahead of time.
© 2014, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Ask for Dr. Anderson’s book, Parenting: A Field Guide, at your favorite bookstore.