The Back-to-School Study Guide

Summer never seems to last long enough – the break goes by quickly, and then it’s time to think about school again. But it’s important to slowly introduce back-to-school routines before the vacation is over. Implementing these steps early helps prepare you and your children for that return to the morning rush and after-school activities.


Re-Set Sleep Schedules

Sleep schedules usually become lax during the summer. Without a school schedule, many children tend to stay up late and sleep later. While this may seem sensible during a vacation, erratic hours do have their downside. One habit recommended by The Mayo Clinic’s easily applies to kids: “Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.”

It can be difficult to alter habits when school starts. Constantly going to bed late and then trying an earlier schedule makes it harder to adjust your mind and body. Start the new school year off right by changing 1-2 weeks before the first day back. Getting enough sleep at back-to-school time is crucial to everyone’s health, cognitive functioning, and well-being.


Get Kids Excited About Back-to-School Time

Some kids just don’t like going back to school, so try different ways to get them excited about it. Get them back into an academic mindset with fun, educational programs at museums, zoos, and aquariums. Places like this combine a sense of adventure with the knowledge that may correlate to future school lessons. Even if it doesn’t directly apply to lessons, the experiences may inspire hobbies, job aspirations, and an appreciation for learning.

If your child has been involved with a summer reading program, they might already be keeping up their reading skills–great! If they haven’t picked up a book all summer, take a trip to the library or bookstore and let them pick out something fun. A “just for fun” book can warm up their brains for the more academic reading ahead.


Take Inventory of Your School Supplies

Back-to-school sales are great, but why spend the extra money if you already have plenty of items? Get the kids involved with looking through previous supplies, and deciding what they need. Although many kids like to follow trends, pencil boxes, lunch bags, and backpacks don’t always require replacement. Discuss ways to enhance existing items, such as adding buttons, fabric paint, and other artistic adornments.

Take your kids with you when you go school shopping. It helps prevent hurt feelings or disagreements, even if only choosing the color of spiral notebooks. It’s also a way to spend more time together before everyone returns to busier routines.


Prepare for Busier Schedules

There’s a lot more to back-to-school schedules than changing your sleeping hours. It means extracurricular activities, fundraisers, and school dances, which can quickly fill up free time. Take Organized Home’s “Do It Now! Tips to Get Ready for Back-to-School” suggestion, and designate a place for “Calendar Central”. Simply, create an easily accessible planner, memo board, or calendar, where everyone can note their daily, weekly, and monthly commitments. Alternatively, or as a back-up, use an app to post everything, and sync everyone’s devices for convenient viewing.


Discuss What to Expect on the First Day Back

A new school year can trigger a variety of emotions, ranging from excitement to nervousness. Kids are changing teachers, and may not be in the same classes as their friends. For students moving from elementary to middle school, or middle to high school, it may also involve different locations. Have an honest discussion with your kids about all of their concerns, and how they’re feeling about returning to school. Ask them:

  • What are you excited about?
  • Is there anything you’re unsure about?
  • Are there classes or trips you’re hoping for?

If they’re resistant or too shy to discuss their feelings, suggest they put it in writing. Education World’s “Principals Share Tips for School Newsletters that Work,” recommends that teachers hand out a letter about themselves. Kids can use this idea, to create a description of their own goals, thoughts, and expectations, which can be reviewed through the year.

Getting ready to go back to school is a stressful time for children and parents. Start preparing before the Summer is over, so you have more time to focus on vacation fun and relaxation.


PHOTO: Flickr/CC0 2.0 Generic Licensing

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