The secret to back-to-school prep isn’t just getting your child ready, it’s getting ahead of the curve yourself. Here’s how:
1. Don’t delay! Fill out those forms
Does your school send home emergency and informational forms for you to fill out? Don’t wait until the night before school starts to get these ready. Are your emergency contacts up to date? Do you need to ask another friend or relative to be your emergency contact this year? Be sure to leave yourself time during the week before school to get the information you need to properly fill out these important forms.
2. Start your school routines now
“Have a night-time routine and stick to it, “says Kathy Glass, a California middle-school teacher, educational consultant, and author focusing on curriculum and instruction. “Begin it in August so kids are accustomed to it when school starts.” Her suggestions include: no television Sunday to Thursday nights, instant message only after homework is done, no texting or instant messaging after a certain hour, read for at least 20 minutes before bed.
Glass does acknowledge that many students are able to instant message, do their homework and achieve good grades. “If they can keep up good grades, allow them to go back and forth,” she says. “It’s the way of the world now. When I work, I go back and forth from writing to checking my email and I still get my job done. Keep this in mind when enforcing that students do not text or instant message while doing their homework. Know your child. Some are able to multitask and some are not.”
“A week or so before school starts, talk through with your kids what they envision their schedule will be like,” advises Laurence Steinberg, professor of psychology at Temple University, and author of You and Your Adolescent and The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting. “For younger children, explain the schedule and how the days will be organized. For secondary school children, ask them to explain what their schedule will be like – what classes they are taking, what extracurricular activities, work schedule, etc. Help them think ahead as to how to handle their responsibilities. When will they block out time for homework? When will they block out time to practice? Help them make sure the schedule is ‘realistic’.”
3. Talk about school changes with your child
“If your child is changing schools or going to a new school for the first time, remember that it can be very anxiety provoking,” says Steinberg. “This anxiety can manifest itself in several ways. Watch for it and be supportive.”
For guidance, check out our 11 tips for adjusting to a new school.
4. Make your school volunteer plan
“Parent involvement in schools matters,” adds Steinberg. “Parents should think about the level of involvement they can commit to for the year. Whether one field trip or volunteering weekly, figure out the level of involvement you can commit to and stick with it.”