Preparing for a Successful Start to the School Year
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As the summer comes to an end, now is the time to get prepared for the school year that lies ahead. Try these strategies to help your children make a successful transition back to school:
- Hold a family meeting. Communicate with your children about your expectations for the coming school year. Talk about before and after school routines. Be sure to talk about plans for completing homework. Do not assume your children already know what is expected.
- Reestablish bedtime and mealtime routines. Your child will have an easier back-to-school transition if routines are introduced and practiced. This sets and communicates expectations.
- Establish one family calendar for all events. Fill in events as they are scheduled and keep the calendar in clear view for the entire family. Consider using color coding. Look over the week’s schedule with your children to lessen anxiety and to make sure you are all prepared for the week ahead.
- Define a launch pad or landing area. Create a space at home designated for everything that needs to go to school such as shoes, lunchboxes, backpacks, jackets, PE uniforms, etc. It reduces running around in the morning.
- Set up simple organization systems. Designate bins or files in a filing cabinet for all of the school papers as they come into your home. For older students, having a place at home to file older papers that need to be saved helps to keep notebooks manageable.
- Write down need-to-know information. Provide your child with a list of the details that he or she needs to know such as bus number, homeroom number, or locker combination. It can provide a sense of comfort.
- Talk about feelings. Ask your children how they feel about the new school year and let them know how you can help.
- Communicate confidence and good feelings about school. As a parent, it is easy to feel sad or anxious about your child starting back at school, especially on that first day. Try your best to keep your emotions in check, so your child’s day isn’t negatively impacted.
- Be available before and after school to support your children’s new routines. Ask about their school experience and provide encouragement as needed.
- Encourage your child to participate in school activities and clubs. Many schools have beginning of the year events to promote school unity and share information about school clubs and after-school activities. Getting involved will help your child feel connected to his or her school and foster peer relationships. For younger children, invite another student from their class over to play.
- Share in the excitement and set an example by attending “Back-to-School Night.” Meet your children’s new teachers, become knowledgeable about their school’s programs, and find out more about what they will be learning.
- Celebrate the completion of school milestones. Mark the first week or month back at school with a special breakfast, dinner at a favorite restaurant, or an evening walk so your children can tell you all about their teachers, new classmates, and activities. Make it a tradition!
Healthy Minds is for parents, educators, and community-based providers who are interested in supporting student mental health and wellness. It represents a collaboration between FCPS’ Office of Intervention and Prevention Services and the Fairfax County Government. SUBSCRIBE to Healthy Minds and receive a monthly digest of our most recent articles.