Getting off to a good start at the beginning of the school year can motivate your child to do the best he or she can. However, each school year is an adjustment for all family members.
Changes may include bedtime; friendships; activity levels; expectations, in terms of academics, social life and athletics; activities like TV, homework, school meetings and functions; and diet.
Many children will attend school for the first time and the whole experience is new. For others there may be new interests, new doubts, and new developmental needs. Changes include new classrooms, teachers and subjects. These mean that the child must adjust aspects of his or her life, which is easier for some children.
A child may adjust well one year and struggle the next with noticeable changes in attitude, mood and socialization skills. Patience, understanding and encouragement are imperative.
Given this, most children adjust in a few weeks.
To help make the transition easier:
— Encourage the love of learning. Tell about teachers who inspired you and your interests in school. Don’t support negative stereotypes about school and teachers.
— Treat school as a normal part of family’s activities. Answer questions and discuss issues, but keep school preparation in perspective. Don’t force enthusiasm or unwanted conversation.
— Visit the school and bus stop with your child. Walk to the school or drive the bus route to familiarize your child with pertinent landmarks. If possible, visit the child’s classroom and meet school staff members.
— Adjust bedtime schedules if necessary before school starts. You may also need to wake the child earlier in the morning for several days until the child automatically goes to sleep earlier.
— Establish routines for bed and wake-up times, getting dressed, after-school activities, meals and homework. Children thrive on routine if it is not too rigid and leaves room for personal creativity.
— Provide your child with an alarm clock and have the child set it each night after choosing clothing for the next day.
— Shop for school supplies together, with a list to avoid conflict. Allow your child to make as many choices as possible.
— Hold a family meeting to discuss bedtimes, morning rituals, bus rules, homework times, play and television limits, and school lunches.
— “Mark” the end of summer vacation with a special event such as a family outing, a back-to-school party, a sleepover or by spending special time together exchanging summer memories, favorite activities, and plans for next year.
— Help your child identify potential “helpers” at school — people to talk to if scared, upset, or ill.
— Try to get involved in your child’s school. Studies show that children are more motivated to learn when they see their parents involved at school.
— Plan to be available to your child, especially the first few weeks of school. Pamper your child a little with favorite foods or extra reading time with a parent.
— Enjoy this very special time of year as a family!
For information, contact Cathy L. Graham, County Extension director with North Carolina at 910-671-3276 or at Cathy_Graham@ncsu.edu, or visit http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu.