A child's schedule revolves around education. From August to June, they are attending class, taking tests, doing homework, and often feeling stressed. That means, unfortunately, many children spend the majority of each year daydreaming about the summer.
As parents, we do not like the thought of our kids wishing their days away. We want them to enjoy life every single day.
Is there anything we can do to help our students have a good outlook on the school year and avoid some of the stress that makes them long for summer?
While we may not be able to convince our children to love school as much as the summer break, we can help them prepare to make the most of their academic experience. By spending time preparing for the start of the new school year, we can help mitigate some of the challenges that cause them the most stress.
We want to help you make sure your child is prepared to have a great school year. This article should serve as a guide to prepare for the next year of education.
Eight Steps to Help Your Child Get Ready for the New School Year
Here are eight steps to take the next few weeks to help them get ready for the next challenge:
1) Discuss Goals and Expectations
Do your children know what you expect from them when it comes to academics? Do you know what you should expect from them? The time to discuss goals and priorities for the school year is well before the first day. Here are a few principles that will help you and your children set good goals:
- Do not set goals for your children alone. Involve them in the process of establishing expectations so that they have ownership over their education.
- Do set realistic expectations for each subject.
- Do not be afraid to establish some stretch goals.
- Do consider potential rewards for meeting and exceeding expectations.
- Do not limit rewards to merely meeting performance goals. Make sure you reward effort as well.
- Do stay positive all year.
- Do not be afraid to make adjustments to goals and expectations as the school year unfolds.
2) Meet Their New Teachers
Many schools provide a day or week to meet your child's teachers prior to the beginning of the school year. Meeting your child's teachers before school has many benefits, including:
- You will have the advantage of putting a face with a name prior to the first day of school.
- You will learn the best method of communication for each teacher.
- You will have the opportunity to express any specific needs your child may have in a particular subject.
- You will get to examine the layout of the classroom and potentially determine the best place for your child to sit.
- You and your child's teacher will be able to get on the same page about the goals for the semester and school year.
Meeting your child's teacher will help set your student up for their best school year.
3) Establish a Calendar
In years past, do you feel like the school year has been chaotic? Have you been driven by the tyranny of the urgent? In other words, do you find yourselves scrambling to finish last-minute assignments from what seems like the first day to the last?
Establishing a calendar will help you take control of your family's schedule.
Here are some tips for creating a calendar and using it effectively:
- As you create the calendar, make sure you do so in partnership with your student. Like setting goals, helping them create their own calendar gives them an additional level of ownership with their education.
- Use all available resources. Create a digital, cloud-based version of the calendar that can be accessed by multiple devices and email addresses. You can use iCal or Google calendar for this.
- Create a hard copy of the calendar as well.
- Display the hard copy of your calendar in a place where you and your child will see it regularly. This may mean hanging the calendar in their designated workspace or a common area such as the refrigerator.
- Establish a "key" for color-coding. Work with your child to assign colors to specific types of assignments and due dates.
- Make sure everything goes on the calendar. The last thing you want is for your child to experience the demoralizing feeling of completing all of their calendar assignments only to find out at school they missed a project.
- Do not let your calendar cause unnecessary stress. Sometimes you will need to make adjustments to dates and goals.
- Use your calendar to create margin in your lives. If you find that every time slot is taken every week, you may need to have some difficult conversations regarding what activities might need to be canceled or postponed to future semesters/years.
Your calendar will be one of your most useful steps to ensuring this is the best possible school year.
4) Return to Your Normal Schedule
If you leave it up to your student, chances are they will put off returning to normal bedtimes and wake-up times until the last day of summer. As parents, it can be tempting to avoid the battle that will ensue when you try to get daily schedules back on track.
However, easing back into a routine that is more reflective of what you will have during the school year can pay dividends throughout the year.
Take the last few weeks before school to ease back into bedtimes, moving them up earlier by 15 to 30 minutes each day. Begin setting morning wake-up alarms.
Reestablishing breakfast and dinner routines will be key to enforcing nighttime and morning regimens.
5) Shop For Supplies Together
You might feel you can shop for school supplies much more quickly and efficiently without the kids in tow; however, like setting goals and creating a calendar, involving your children in the process can help them establish a pattern of ownership over their academics.
Parents may find that even if the kids are bored at first, they will eventually enjoy choosing the colors and styles of pens and notebooks, figuring out how to organize their materials, and testing new backpacks.
Also, when it comes to backpacks, choose one that is comfortable and efficient.
6) Take One More Family Outing
Summer break provides families with incredible quality time. While you can certainly schedule some time outdoors during the school year, it will not be easy to work around school and extracurricular activity schedules.
With a few more weeks before the first day, take a day or half-day to go hiking, swimming, or biking. You will not regret getting in a little more family time before the new school year gets underway.
7) Commit to Healthy Eating and Sleeping Habits
Believe it or not, healthy eating and sleeping habits have a profound impact on your child's academic experience. Poor sleep and/or nutrition will negatively impact your student's cognitive abilities and can lead to a cycle like this:
- Staying up too late will push wake-up times later and later.
- Later wake-up times result in skipping breakfast or eating something quick and sugary.
- Running late leads to increased stress before the school day even begins.
- Fatigue from sleep deprivation and improper nutrition can affect cognitive abilities.
- Trouble focusing and comprehending lessons can lead to further stress and impact a child's ability to do work at home.
- These factors can make homework take longer than it should, which can push back dinnertimes and bedtimes.
- Another late bedtime can contribute to this pattern becoming a cycle.
On the other hand, practicing healthy eating, exercise, and sleeping habits will have a number of positive impacts, including:
- Easier morning routines.
- Better ability to focus.
- Higher performance on assignments and tests.
- A more positive attitude.
- An improved lifestyle for your entire family.
It may seem unrealistic to perfectly maintain a consistent routine; however, committing to healthy habits early in the year is a significant first step.
If you do find you and your kids getting off track, make it a priority to get back to your routine as soon as possible.
8) Pray and Study Together
This is the most important step to prepare for the new school year. Spending time in prayer and Bible study as a family is vital to putting everything in its proper perspective.
For Christian parents, you know what you want more than anything is for your children to grow in their faith. Praying and studying Scripture together allows you to model what following Christ looks like into adulthood.
However, it can be challenging to find the time to make the time for family worship.
Here are a few ideas to help you facilitate this time together:
- Plan a consistent time to pray and study together each day.
- Start small, with perhaps a single passage and a short prayer.
- Allow your children to have input - whether it is choosing the passage to read, choosing songs to sing, leading a prayer, or acting out a scene.
- If praying and studying together daily seems daunting, consider doing it weekly or every other day at first.
- If you miss a day, do what you can. A quick prayer at bedtime is valuable, even if that's all you have time to do.
- When you get off track, make it a priority to jump back in as soon as possible.
One of the most important steps you can take is choosing the right institution for your child. A Christ-centered school like St. Paul Lutheran School in Northville, MI, provides the kind of support your child needs to be excited about the approaching school year.
If you would like to know more about our school, we would love to answer your questions.
Contact St. Paul Lutheran School for more information about how to take a tour, meet our team, and enroll your child at St. Paul.