Last week began my 12th back to school season as a parent. I’m one of the fortunate ones: my kids love school and they have had terrific teachers through the years. As much as we all love the lazy days of summer, I think everyone (parents and kids alike) look forward to the new school year beginning again.
I am certainly no expert when it comes to parenting, but I do have a few years and a few kids under my belt, along with experience with a combined total of about 99 teachers over the last 12 years. I do know a thing or two about setting the school year off to a good start. I figured I’d compile a few of my favorites into a handy back to school tips list.
DOs and DON’Ts for a Successful Back To School Season
- DO establish a schedule at the beginning of the school year. From morning wake up to getting ready for school to after-school homework and bedtime rituals, routines are critical. Sometimes it helps both kids and parents to write the routine down (especially if you’re getting used to a new schedule). My kids will sometimes write a step-by-step schedule of their day the night before (with items on their list like “Wake up” and “eat breakfast”). As simplistic as a schedule may be, knowing what to expect and what is coming up next is very comforting for children (and adults, too!).
- DO prepare as much as possible (clothes, backpacks, lunch) the night before. That’s the ideal. However….
- DON’T sacrifice sleep just to stick with a schedule. Sometimes other things come up (scouts, family outings, sports, etc) that push the normal schedule off a bit. I’ve often had to tell my kids to stop doing homework or just drop everything and go to bed. Homework can be caught up in the morning, and I can help fill in the other spaces (lunch packing and such) to make up time. Sleep is critical for happy, alert, kids with minds ready to soak up a day of knowledge.
- DO enlist your kids to help each other and their friends and vice versa. Nothing solidifies a concept in an individual’s mind like having to teach it to someone else. Not only is peer or sibling tutoring great practice and a self esteem boost for the one doing the teaching, but I’ve found that the child needing help responds excellently to receiving help from someone closer to their age. My kids have thrived not only helping each other, but in student support, tutoring, and classroom volunteer programs during and after school.
- DON’T push it when a child gets frustrated or discouraged on homework. I know all too well what it feels like to get frustrated with a concept or a situation. My brain shuts down, my blood starts pumping, and I’m mad. I’ve seen my kids get like that with homework problems. It’s almost always best to take a step away, cool down, do something else for a little while, and then revisit the problem with a clearer mind.
- DO open up a good line of communication with the teachers. My best method of establishing a good relationship with my kids’ teachers has been through volunteering. Although I’ve gotten busier over the last coupe of years and don’t volunteer quite as much, I can’t tell you how many times I have either seen or heard things while I’ve been at the school that have given me critical insight unto my kids’ school experience. The teachers tend to open up a whole lot more with parents when they have more face time than a mid-year Parent-Teacher conference.
- DON’T leave it all up to the kids. My kids are extremely independent and self-motivated. They do best with a “long leash” and I am happy to give them plenty of freedom where I can. However, I make a point to stay in tune with the things that are being sent home each day/week. My homework is to go through their folders and backpacks, add dates to the calendar, sign what needs to be signed, and verify that homework is being sent back to school on time.
- DO build some down time into each afternoon or evening. Whether it’s an after-school snack or getting energy out at the park before starting homework, I’ve found that my kids do better with some down time after having to be “on” all day at school.
- DO make back to school season a positive time. Encourage each other. Support each other. Build each other. Growing and learning is GOOD!
Purell’s Healthy Starts for Classroom Smarts Sweepstakes
In support of back to school season, Purell is currently running a Healthy Starts for Classroom Smarts sweepstakes and you can enter today at scholastic.com/purell. The sweepstakes prize includes a $250 back-to-school shopping spree, 25 Scholastic books, and PURELL products (who wouldn’t love that?).
Head over to Scholastic.com/purell and enter the sweepstakes today!
Bring PURELL back to school!
- PURELL® has a NEW Advanced Formula – it offers enhanced bacteria killing power in a formulation that makes it mild and soothing on the skin.
- New PURELL® Advanced Hand Sanitizer JELLY WRAP™ carriers are back-to-school and on-the-go since they clip easily to backpacks and lunch boxes.
- Hand sanitizer doesn’t have to be plain and boring. Kids and moms alike will love Purell’s SpongeBob Splash Formula, which has a fresh scent of banana, pineapple and garden greens.
Disclosure: This is a compensated post to spread the word about the Purell Healthy Starts for Classroom Smarts sweepstakes. All tips and ideas in this post are solely my own, and the reader should remember that I am not an expert or authority but simply a fellow mom with experience gained through years of trial and error.
© 2012 – 2013, Food Fun Family. All rights reserved.