Back to school, already? Is it really time to prepare for the new routine, the new teacher and new friends, all over again? The beginning of a new year is often a time when both parents and children are nervous and excited. So what’s the best way to get your child and yourself off to a good start?
br>P>"A little thought and planning can make all the difference," says Rosemarie Clark, co-author of The School-Savvy Parent and a teacher herself. Here are a few of her suggestions:
LI>Ease the transition from vacation to school by setting bedtime a little earlier each night. Make it a goal to have your child on a regular bedtime schedule about a week before school begins.
LI>Some children have trouble leaving home in the morning. To make it smoother, send along a pocket-size token, such as a family picture or a seashell from a beach outing.
LI>Before you buy any school supplies, call the school office for a list. Teachers take care to list only needed materials that will fit into student desks. Resist the urge to buy extra supplies.
P>If setting a schedule for homework is one of your biggest nightmares at the beginning of the year (and what parent does not dread battles over this issue?), Cynthia Whitham, author of The Answer is No; Saying It and Sticking to It, advises parents to first set a fixed time for homework, and decide on a regular place. "Consider a kitchen or dining room table, the center of family life, rather than a desk isolated in the child’s room," she suggests.
br>P>Your child’s teacher will probably let you know her expectations for homework, but if she doesn’t, find out what they are. How much time should your child be spending? How much help should you be giving?
"Show interest in your child’s work," Whitham adds. "Ask about projects, give friendly comments, and post long-term assignments on the refrigerator. And always focus on what is correct in your child’s work, rather than what is wrong."
On the First Day
Whether the idea of going back to school sends shivers of excitement down your child’s spine or tremors of fear, your response as a parent will set the tone for your youngster.
"If you are upbeat and positive, your children will pick that up," explains Whitham. "On the other hand, if you show hesitation or anxiety about school, you are giving them the message that they too should be fearful. Give your child an opportunity to approach school in a positive manner."
Trust your child. Trust your teacher. Stay involved. Expect your child’s year to be full of days that are up, days that are down, and others that are in-between. And have a great year!
For children entering kindergarten, Lawrence Balter, a professor of applied psychology at New York University’s School of Education and author of Sue Lee Starts School, says kids will get off to a better start if their parents help them get ready for school. Here are some of the ways you can help your school-bound child: