Monday May 21, 2007

Getting Back into the Groove of School

Lisa Leslie Henderson writer

1. Finish summer reading assignments.
Don’t wait until the very last minute. Make it fun. Get cozy with a book in the chairs at a local coffee shop or the library, in a kayak at Elm Bank, or on
a blanket under the trees.

2. Get organized.
Encourage kids to clean out their desks, closets, books, and sports equipment; develop a list of what they will need for the fall and pass along any outgrown items. Have kids keep a running total of what they have spent on their back-to-school items; it builds financial awareness, appreciation, and math skills.

3. Get together with classmates.
To help reduce any back-to-school social jitters, suggest that kids invite some of their classmates to play on the school playground, see a movie, or participate in a pre-season sports camp. Such shared experiences provide points of connection that can come in handy during those first few days of school.

4. Set your alarm.
Facilitate a shift in your kids’ internal clocks; wake up early the week before school; go out for breakfast, for a bike ride, or to a soccer field to fine tune those fall sport skills. Practice setting your alarm clocks. Teenage children who enjoy sleeping late will have the most difficult time waking up for school, so the above guidelines are especially important for them to follow.

5. Design your morning and evening routines.
Take pictures of your kids brushing their teeth, laying out their clothes, packing their school bag, or whatever their routine includes. Laminate pictures onto customized flipbooks, placemats or posters to which children can refer. Older kids may prefer to make lists and keep track of their schedules on their own personal white board.

6. Clarify homework expectations.
Discuss when and where homework will be done with each child. Create a “supplies box” containing anything that kids might need to complete their homework
(e.g., rulers, calculators, colored pencils, glue sticks, index cards). Determine ahead of time what your policies will be for television, instant messaging, and weekday social events.

7. Honor your family’s rituals.
Rituals sound formal, but end-of-the-summer traditions can be as simple as enjoying an ice cream, heading out-of-town for Labor Day, or hosting a late summer barbecue with friends. Think through any additional privileges and responsibilities that come with the new school year.
Is this the year that your child can make his own lunch, walk downtown with friends, get a cell phone, or drive to school?

8. Consider your children’s medical needs.
Are they up to date on their school forms and immunizations? Are there any prescriptions that need to be updated or resumed before school begins? Older children who are participating in fall sports programs will need to provide the school with a current health assessment form.

9. Stay involved in your children’s day.
The older your kids are, the less likely you are to be physically present at their school. However, studies show that kids do best when their parents are involved. Find ways to stay connected with your kids and their school. Locate special events you can attend together that build on what they are learning. Include a note in their lunch, or text message them during the day, to let them know you are thinking of them.

10. Say “no” to the fall frenzy.
Block off time now on your fall calendar for family activities, excursions, and downtime. Keep summer’s pleasure flowing with a weekend excursion to the beach or to an orchard to pick apples. Remember, the fun does not have to end because school begins.




© 2006 Elm Bank Media