5 tips to start the school year off right

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

By Rebecca Cole

I can't believe that summer is almost over and the start of the school year is already here. I don't know where these last three months have gone!! As much as I hate to say it, it's time to leave the pool behind and focus on getting our kids ready for school.

Now is the perfect time, before school starts, to take a look at what went well (and not so well) from past years and make a plan to deal with these issues right from the start. Below are some common areas families struggle with, and some ideas to help make things run a bit more smoothly.

1. Going to Bed On Time & Waking Up Earlier

  • Before School Starts:
    • Start aligning summer schedules to what the school schedule will be, including meal & snack times (nap & rest times too for younger children)
    • Start adjusting your children's bedtime now so they are adjusted to the new schedule before they start the first week of school.  Research has shown that getting enough sleep is critical for success in school.
  • After School starts:
    • Set alarm clocks 15 minutes earlier than the usual wake-up time to allow your children (and you!) to feel less rushed.  When your child doesn't feel hurried, it helps everyone's attitude!
2. Limit Screen Time

Between the heat and summer boredom setting in, many parents have turned to TV, internet and of course Pokemon Go! to keep the kids entertained.

  • Before School Starts:
    • Eliminate 30 minutes of screen time per day to get your children back into the school routine.
  • After School starts:
    • Limit screen time to 30-60 minutes per day and encourage your children to finish their schoolwork and enjoy some time outside.
3. Establishing Good Study Habits

Research shows that most children lose at least a month’s worth of academic skills over the summer.

  • Before School Starts:
    • Play games or do activities that are academically oriented so children can refresh what they learned from last year.
    • Whether your child is two years old or ten, reading is crucial.  Make sure to set aside some time each day to read to your child or have them read to themselves.
  • After School Starts:
    • Help your children establish a homework routine. Some children like to do their homework right away, but many others like to have a snack, take a short break and then get it done. Help your child determine what works best for them and then stay consistent!
    • Parents can help by also doing work, reading or getting something on their to-do list done at the same time.
4. Improve Eating Habits
  • Sit down with your child and plan out snacks and lunches that they want to eat.  It doesn't do anyone any good when your child throws their lunch away uneaten.
  • Good nutrition helps keep your child alert and the brain functioning.  Stay away from sugary treats and make sure to include some protein.
  • Here are some great, healthy lunch ideas for kids: 
5. Being Organized
  • Before School Starts:
    • Practice travel routes to see how long it will take to get to and from school.  This is especially important if you will be walking or biking to school with your kids.
  • After School Starts:
    • Have your children choose their clothing the night before and lay it out.
    • Re-pack book bags and prepare lunches the night before to reduce the morning rush.
    • Hang that family calendar back up in a visible spot and take a few minutes each weekend to have everyone write down their activities and assignments for the upcoming week. 

Being prepared:  It's the best way to start the school year off right!!

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