The lunches are made and chillin’ in the fridge and the clothes are laid out nicely for the new morning to arrive. School has officially kicked off for some, with teachers figuring those last-minute details out and children sleeping in for just a few more days. Well, before the craziness of the school season ensues, here are a few things that could keep this semester (and maybe this school year) in a little more order…and sanity:
Establish consistent routines
Take the “year at a glance” approach. If you have a child starting first grade and one in fourth, one a musician and the other an athlete, then you must sketch out how you will achieve a balance between school, their activities, your work and your activities.
It’s best to look at all of these areas at once so you can spot the trouble spots. Once you have the big picture, it’s time to ask how you can set up a regular routine to ensure that everyone’s needs are met — including yours. Early in the school year, decide which activities will fit and which will have to be postponed. Now that you know what activities you’ll do regularly, decide where homework fits and set a regular time for it.
Set reasonable bedtimes
Without enough sleep, young students’ learning suffers, as does their behavior. Additionally, lack of sleep makes kids prone to getting sick, which means they miss school and get behind in their learning. Avoid these problems by setting a reasonable bedtime for your children and sticking to it. According to Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., a member of the National Sleep Foundation, elementary-aged children need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep each night. She also recommends adding an additional 10 to 20 minutes to that amount to account for the time is takes your child to fall asleep.
Learn to say “no”
Parents want to provide the best for their children and many believe that giving them access to as many opportunities as possible is the best way to enhance their learning. In fact, the best way to enhance a child’s learning is to allow them to slow down and think about what happened in class and to talk to them about it. This type of reflection can only come when parents and children have some downtime together. We advocate the motto: Just Do Nothing.
We all love TV. We loved cartoons as kids, and probably sitcoms, dramas or reality shows now. But be careful not to watch TV to the exclusion of all other forms of entertainment. Kids aren’t as good at moderating their exposure to TV. They need the help of their parents to make good choices and to limit the time spent being a passive observer. Kids learn best when they’re actively involved in what they’re doing. Reading, talking, exploring, drawing, building, playing — these are all important parts of childhood.
Research has shown that one of the greatest predictors of academic success is the amount of time a student reads. When asked by parents what they should do to help their child learn, most teachers will answer, “get them to read!” Books not only open new worlds and ideas for children, they build their vocabulary, improve their memory, grow their imagination and teach them valuable thinking skills. Time spent reading is an investment in your child’s future.
Support your child’s teacher
It is an unfortunate fact of modern-day society that teachers feel less support from parents, administrations and governments than ever before. This is a shame, not only for the hard-working teachers who deserve to feel respected as professionals, but for the students they teach. Students receive the best education when they’re part of a committed triumvirate. For a child to truly learn in school, all three members of the team need to work together. The teacher, student and parents should all be working toward the same goal with commitment and help from one another.
It truly does take a village to raise a child. Too often these days, however, parents find themselves struggling to do it all with very little support. If you live near grandparents, aunts or uncles, ask if they can occasionally go to the soccer game or pick up the art materials or buy the new notebook. Spreading the small tasks around to willing volunteers may give you more time to focus on the important aspects of the school year. If family members aren’t available to help, then exchange help with neighbors and friends.
Practice what you preach
To make the school year go more smoothly, it’s important that your child is responsible, timely and well behaved. You are far more likely to have a child who behaves this way if you model appropriate behavior for them. If you are frequently late, often forget important items, and are stressed and irritable most of the time, you’re far more likely to have chronic problems with your children — especially during the school year when time is tight. Nobody’s perfect, but if you show that you ask of yourself the same things you ask of them, then you’re more likely to garner their cooperation.
If you fail to plan, then plan to fail. If you know that your daughter is going to appear in a play during the month of May, which will require lots of rehearsals after school, don’t enroll her in tap class and swimming until June. When you know that time will be tight, it also makes sense to speak to your child’s teacher to advise her of the situation and to get her help with scheduling homework. Always keep in mind what’s coming up next week and what may be required due to the seasons.
Keep your eye on the prize
Being committed to managing the school year well takes effort. Keeping your family balanced despite all of the demands on everyone’s time can be difficult. All of it can be managed better if you always stay focused on your purpose. Your purpose as a parent is to raise well-adjusted children who can enter society and forge a good life on their own. They need a good education to do this.
Any routines you’ve gotten your family into for back-to-school?! Share below ~Nikki 🙂