back to school

Transitioning Back to School

Originally published on the Ridgewood Moms website

While most kids are still knee-deep in summer fun, the new school year is just around the corner. During these months off school, it’s easy to fall out of a regular structured routine, and both reading time and learning activities often fall to the sideline. Help your child transition back into “school‎ mode” and prepare for the new year with the ideas detailed below.

Get organized!

While the school year may seem far away, get a jump-start on organization by shopping for school supplies with your child early (yes, supplies sell out quickly!). Once you’ve purchased the relevant supplies, come up with a workable study space for your child and start organizing. Some kids prefer to work at a desk in their room while others like working at a dining room or kitchen table. Any of those options work well, as long as the space is quiet and free of distractions. Once you have established this space, start organizing! Make sure your child’s pens and pencils are placed in one section of the study space, and tape, scissors, paper, staples, and the like are arranged in their own pre-set spots. After the school year begins, make sure your child’s study area is always fully stocked with the necessary supplies so he never needs to stop mid-assignment to start hunting for additional paper or pens.

Set up a 3-Tier Filing System

As the school year progresses, the number of papers and handouts your child receives will inevitably continue to grow. Encourage your child avoid carrying an overloaded notebook and backpack stuffed with papers by helping her set up a 3-tier organizational system prior to the start of the school year. To do so, start with Tier 1, which is her “working notebook” – the notebook or binder she will carry to school with her on a regular basis. Help her designate one day per week to be her “clean out my working notebook” day, where she removes any papers she doesn’t absolutely need to be carrying with her on a regular basis and files them into Tier 2, which is a multi-section accordion file folder that she leaves at home. She should label the accordion file with 3 sections for every class – one for homework, one for notes, and one for tests/quizzes (i.e. math homework, math notes, math tests/quizzes, English homework, English notes, English tests/quizzes, and so on). Tier 3 is a file drawer or cabinet, where she keeps papers, notebooks, or projects that she wants to keep for the long haul.

Reduce Anxiety

Many kids develop a “summer mindset” during their time off school, when their days are filled with swimming, playing outside, and staying up late. As the school year approaches, kids often develop that butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling and lots of anxiety, wishing that summer would never end and school would never start. Help your child combat this anxiety by sharing the positive experiences you had at school when you were a kid. Discuss cool projects you made (who can forget that multi-colored shoe box solar system?), fun field trips (Apple picking! Statue of Liberty!), and special school events and plays. You might want to show your child some pictures of your school days and share a few good laughs. The more positive you can be about school, the better.

Read Together

Keep up the reading this summer and into the school year by spending at least 20 minutes per night either reading to your child, having him read to you, or doing a combination of both. Some kids like to alternate reading aloud, where he reads one page, you read the next, and so on. Just keep up the reading! Research tells us that reading regularly to your child stimulates brain development and helps foster the parent-child bond. Don’t limit yourself to 20 minutes either; if you’re on a roll and your child is captivated by a story, keep reading!

Try a 5-Minute Meditation

If your child continues to feel anxious despite your childhood stories and positive school-talk‎, try a basic 5 minute meditation to help her relax – both before school begins and whenever she feels anxious during the school year. To do so, have her lay in a comfortable spot and start to take deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling through her nose. Then tell her to imagine that her stomach is like a balloon. Each time she inhales, the balloon fills up with air, and when she exhales, it shrinks. Encourage her to try to feel her body relax with these slow deep breaths as she inhales and exhales and the balloon inflates and then shrinks with each breath. Try this meditation for just 5 minutes and you’ll see a real difference in your child’s anxiety levels.

With the new school year approaching, feelings of fear and anxiety start to emerge for many kids. Help your child avoid the end-of-summer blues with these ideas and he will be well prepared for the new school year.‎

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