Going back to school is always an exciting time both for the parents and the children. It is a joyful time to celebrate new beginnings. Shopping for new school supplies, new books, new outfits and wardrobes, perhaps a new school building or going to a totally new school, fresh hopes to make new friends as well as the excitement to meet new teachers and learn new things. But as interesting as it seems, it includes some responsible and careful planning as well on the part of parents. Here are few tips to make the ride back to school for your kids (as well as yourself) a lot smoother:
- Make time for your children for their first day back to school. Most millennial children have both parents working in full time jobs, leaving them very little quality time spent with parents. No matter how much hectic your work schedule is, make ample time to be with your kids during their first day back to school. Clear your time schedule for early morning business calls, meetings, take a leave or at least request your boss to allow you to come in late. Shelve any out-of-town business travel plan for at least the entire first week of school. It will definitely mean a lot to your children.
- Make the back to school morning all fun by clicking wonderful pictures of your kids all dressed up to go back to school. Take a family selfie if you wish! Do not forget to charge the batteries of your cameras (or smartphones) or the handy-cams the night before to capture all the wonderful memories of the first day of school. For all we know time flies fast and a few years down the line when your kids are all grown up and leaving for college, universities and jobs, these pictures and videos will bring so much joy to you. But just a tip, don’t make the pictures look anything like this
- To make time for these exciting morning ritual and avoid last-minute confusions and delays, plan your schedule in advance. Setting the alarm clock for yourself and the kids is a must do. After all, you don’t want your kids to be late on the very first day of school.
- It’s always better to take care of some things at previous night or much in advance such as doing prep for lunch box, putting all school supplies and essentials in the backpack, selecting the first school day outfits and making sure they are clean and ironed. Make sure that the car is in a good shape to avoid delay. It will be much more convenient to have such things sorted in advance. Back to school week can easily become a great family event with you spending time shopping and brainstorming creative ideas for meal prepping and planning.
- Parents of toddlers/ preschoolers/ even early kindergartners must not forget to put a name and emergency contact card in their backpacks. It must contain parents’ contact information and/or emergency contact number and the school bus number.
- When your kids come back from school on the first day, (and perhaps for the entire first month) talk to them about their learning experience. It is important to be aware of how your child is managing in the school. Develop an interest in the subjects that they are learning. Of course, it will be a little bit tiring at first, after all, day’s hard work, but if you can manage to do it, the outcome will be great. Share your views about the subjects, even if don’t have much idea, gain some from your child. Be aware of their progress; encourage them with a positive outlook and achievable goals. Enroll your children for reliable and effective after-school tutoring programs if they need extra help with studies or homework.
- As a parent you can also get in touch with the teachers, sharing your interest in getting regular feedback about your child, meet with them and most importantly, never miss a parents-teacher meeting. Along with the teachers, meet the other important school professionals like the Principal, student counselor and so on. Introduce yourself to the school’s parent organization and try to get regularly involved in PTA activities.
- If your child is going to a new school, it will help to familiarize yourself with your child’s school. Request the school authorities to take a tour of the school. Find out perhaps about the curriculum plan, teaching methodology. This can be done a couple of weeks prior to the first day of school as well. Some schools also have orientation sessions for newly admit students and their parents to acquaint them with the school surroundings as well as rules and code of conducts. Make sure to attend any and every such session.
- A couple of weeks in, Invite the friends of your children for lunch or snacks in order to know them well. Talk to them, try to understand what they think about your children, or invite the parents of your child’s best friend to your home and share your experience, but of course, don’t overdo it by doing something that may hurt your children’s feelings.
- Do not shop for all school supplies just at once. It’s OK to buy sure things such as pens, pencils, eraser, post-its, files and folders etc that your child will definitely need. Allow your kids to splurge a little on their favorite markers, or scented colored pens or their teen-queen notebooks. Keep a contingency budget for unexpected school supplies’ list that the school or teacher may require your kids to buy additionally. If your child’s school has gone on a Bring Your Own Device wagon, then have a thorough conversation with the teacher and school authorities before buying expensive smartphone/mobile devices such as iPad and tablets or any other e-learning device.
- Generate excitement in your child by explaining the uses of new school supplies and their potential for enhancing the overall learning experience or helping with upcoming grade projects.
- Encourage your kids to enroll in extra-curricular activities like swimming, tennis, cricket, soccer practicing, learning any musical instrument, painting or anything they are passionate about. This will give them a chance to make friends with students who share their interests.
- This is to the fathers mainly, don’t leave everything on your wife. Even if she is a house-wife don’t think that she has plenty of time to take care of everything on her own, she will be needing time for herself too. Therefore, it’s better to split the work. It will be easier for both of you and make you avoid all the fights over the stress and workload.
- Be fun loving, understanding parents. Don’t talk always about the career and study. Share your own experience as a school student with your children. Be honest, just because you are parents doesn’t mean that you have to portray yourself as an ideal one in everything. Share your own experience of school life, the fun you had in school, the pranks you played, any trouble you got yourself into, your teachers, classes and all. This can bond you and your children very strongly.
- Always inculcate a positive attitude in students about schooling, education, learning and teachers. Never make snide comments about the usefulness of schooling or education system or teachers in front of your kids. This may undermine the child’s own belief in the importance of learning.
- If you suspect that your child has developed resistance towards schooling, talk to them politely and patiently about this. Find out what might be the reason for your child’s lack of interest in going to school or paying attention to studies. Eliminate reasons for undue parental pressure. Help children balance their interest and passion with studies with active time management skills to avoid conflicts with study time. Address their stress and troubles in a friendly manner. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Share your story, how you managed to overcome all those problems. These will give them a morale boost.
- Always lend an empathetic ear your kids’ complaint about school/ friends/teachers seriously to prevent bullying. If you suspect that your child is getting victimized bring it immediately to the notice of teachers/principal or school authorities and address the problem before it harms your child physically or mentally.
- Educate your kids about cyber-bullying (especially for middle school). School children these days have active and unrestricted access to the internet and social media websites which means parents have to be vigilant about the digital footprints of their children. Set rules for ethical use of digital devices and explain net-netiquettes on sending text messages, sharing photographs or personal and financial information on websites and making friends or chatting with strangers.
- Address your child’s back to school anxieties. School kids of all ages, from preschoolers to final year high school students, have last minute jitters about the first day of school. Only the matter of anxieties may be different and while some might have butterflies in their stomach from excitement, others might lose their appetite, sleep or even have anxiety attacks. Toddlers/ Preschoolers or Kindergartners might suffer from separation anxiety or worry about not being able to find their way around the school. Older kids might have more complex issues such as ‘how will the new teacher be?’ or ‘how are they going to make friends with the cool kids’ or ‘what outfit to wear on the first day’. As a parent, it is important for you to prepare yourself for such age-specific anxiety issues. Read about age-specific anxiety issues and prepare to handle them. Try to maintain calm and positive energy around your kids during the back to school week. Teach your kids about how to approach new students and help them boost their confidence and assertive skills. Dispel myths that might be causing tension in your child’s head (the new school principle is extremely strict or all high school students are mean.).
- Finally, just take it easy, relax, breath and relieve all your stress, because without a relaxed mind it would be impossible for you to spread any joy or enthusiasm in your children’s life. Make yourself comfortable with the routine and the rest will be the cakewalk.
We hope that the first month of school will be an exciting time for all the parents, free from glitches and a smooth and joyous road to building strong relationships with your kids.
You can share your lovely back to school preparation pictures and experiences with us in comments or even on Twitter (tag us with @urgenthomework).