Tips: Getting Ready for a New School Year

As teachers, we have been through the process of getting ready for the school year many times.  Here is our best advice to students and parents starting off a new year.  We think that the following items will help alleviate stress and provide a structure to ensure success.

1. Get Organized

You have likely received a list of school supplies that your child will need for the upcoming school year.  Go through the items that you currently have and figure out what you still need to purchase.  Consider purchasing a similar set of supplies to use at home. If you do this, choose a convenient place to keep them.  If you are the parent of a young child, decorate a storage box for school supplies.  If your child is older, designate a desk drawer or something similar for these materials.

If your child is in the upper grades, middle school, or high school, he or she was probably assigned summer reading.  If so, take the time to talk through the books that your child was assigned.  Remember, your child is very likely to have a test, project, or a discussion on this literature in the first weeks of school.  Review with your son or daughter to start off the school year with a high mark.

In addition to reading, students may have been assigned summer homework.  check over this work with your child and ensure that it is complete and correct before the start of the year.

2. Label, Label, Label!

This is something that will be very helpful to do for your young child, whereas middle school or high school students might prefer to do this on their own.  Nonetheless, remember that school supply stores and back to school clothiers have been pumping out cool and trendy items for you or your child to buy.  It is nearly inevitable that your son’s or daughter’s jackets, folders, binders, etc will be the duplicate of a classmates item.  To ensure that you get the benefits of your purchases label them! A permanent marker on clothing tags and materials is suitable, but there are also many websites that provide customized stickers and clothing tags with your child’s name.

3. Get Some Zzzz’s

This is one that teachers can really relate to!  Like students, we often think it is fun to stay up later than normal in the summer and sleep in late. Correspondingly, many teachers and students need to make adjustments when the school year is about to begin. If your child has been off of his or her regular sleep pattern over the summer (and we know he or she was!), have them take a week to adjust to the school sleep schedule.  This means that in that week, your child will go to bed and wake up at the same time that he or she will have to go to bed and wake up once school starts.  This will help your son or daughter get into a routine and will alleviate some of the sleepiness that can go along with the start of a new school year.

4. Designate a Space for Homework

Most students think that they can get their work done wherever.  When work is designated for a specific place that provides less interruption, students will be able to complete homework in less time and the quality of their work will be higher.  For younger students you may choose the kitchen table, while older students will likely choose a desk in a quiet room. Remember, some ambient music might help your child focus, but it is unlikely that TV, IMing,  texting, or Facebook will allow them to get their homework done in a timely and effective manner.  Some parents may want to monitor this during homework time so that busy or social students are able to complete all of their work.

5. What do I need Again?

Whether you child is juvenile or teen aged, it is easy to forget all of the items in his or her busy schedule.  Keep a weekly chart that reminds students of what they will need for each day.  For example your young son may have P.E. two days a week, Library one day, and art on another.  Your weekly chart would remind him to wear athletic shoes on P.E. days, to bring his book on library days, and it might remind you to retrieve his artwork from is backpack on art days.  On the other hand, your older daughter might have various after-school commitments that she needs to plan for.  Your weekly schedule for her might remind her which days she has basketball practice, which days she has student government, and which day she has her SAT class.  Putting this schedule in a place that the whole family can see will allow everyone to feel prepared for the complexities of a busy family schedule!

6. After School Schedule

This is similar to the aforementioned chart of weekly events, however it adds and extra layer by giving more detail to the afternoon timetable.   Firstly, your child likely has set after-school events.  Schedule those in first .  Next, schedule in the amount of time your child would need for homework.  A general rule of thumb on this is that you should calculate 10-15 minutes of work multiplied by your child’s year in school.  A first grader should have about 15 minutes of homework per night, a fourth grader should have about 40-60 minutes of homework per night, and a tenth grader should have about 100 to 115 minutes of homework.  Of course, this number could vary based on the night of the week, which school your child attends, or various other factors.  Adjust the calendar as you notice patterns in the amount of time homework is taking.  Once you have filled in the non-negotiable tasks, talk with your child about what he or she would like to do in the free time.  Perhaps your child wants to designate a time for social media, computer games, or television watching. As long as it is in agreement with the rules of your household, schedule these items in too.  This will give your child something to look forward to when she has completed her homework.

7. Calendar out Long Term Projects

Another calendar.  Are you noticing a theme here?  In all seriousness many students have difficulty judging the amount of time and effort a long term project should take.  Your child, no matter his age, should NOT be in the habit of pulling all-nighters or cramming.  Help your son or daughter plan for these assignments by mapping them out on a monthly calendar.  When you receive the course information or project assignments from teachers, take the time to talk with your child about a schedule for studying or preparing.  If your child is able to break a large assignment or study session into manageable chunks, he or she will most likely create a better result as well as being happier and less stressed.

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