Back to School

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Back-to-School Basics

September 07, 2010
by Jen O'Neill
The end of summer is a study in trade-offs: book time replaces pool time; loungewear is swapped for school-wear; and strict schedules oust free time in a blatant reminder that the summer’s over. Start off on the right foot with the following resources for organizing, communicating and planning, during your child’s return to the classroom.

A Good Place to Start: Parent-Teacher Communication

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Filling out forms during registration is the first step in starting at a new school and the ideal time to meet your child’s new teachers. Whether your child is starting out in preschool, or a new high school, getting to know your child’s teacher(s) and their expectations is a good way to start the school year off smoothly.

During the meeting, find out the school’s requirements: obtain a handbook, list of textbooks, work supplies and the dress code. Also, you can learn more about what the school has to offer in terms of resources.

A Healthy Start

To start the year with a clean slate, update your child’s medical records. Most schools require your child to have a physical exam before starting school; this is also an ideal time to visit the dentist and have an eye exam—especially if they spent a lot of time playing video games during the summer.

It’s also important to get back on track with your child’s bedtime routine, which may have gone by the wayside during those long summer evenings. We’ve all heard that kids, teens and young adults need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep per night in order to properly function at school and during after-school activities. According to WebMD, a sleeping pattern is a “group effort” and requires consistency.

For teenagers, HealthDay suggests that you “slowly advance the wake time”, and each day they will wake up earlier and earlier, eventually ensuring they’re up in time to get ready for school.

Good Nutrition Is Good for Your Child’s Learning

A balanced diet requires work but will benefit your child for the short and long term. Since recent studies reveal that school-age kids do not always eat healthfully at school, there are many simple recipes that meet dietary requirements and are still easy for kids to take on the run. On MedicineNet, Dr. Melissa Conrad Stoppler lists 15 healthy foods to pack, while Reader’s Digest has eight healthy and delicious lunchbox recipes.

First Day Nerves

New situations generally bring about anxiety, and this is often true with the first day of school. Whether your child is returning to a school they previously attended, or starting a new school, it’s likely they will experience some apprehension. Rest assured, they are not alone; most of their peers are in the same boat.

The BBC’s Student Life Guide highlights eight ways that your child can overcome fears, including tips for putting the focus on what the teacher says and talking to other kids in the class to take some of the pressure off.

Organize Your Way Into the Swing of Things

Alas, with relaxed summer schedules coming to a close, it’s time to lessen new school year stress by getting organized. One way to simplify the seemingly daunting task, is to have a central calendar the whole family can use, and put all important dates on it.

Most importantly, remember to update it regularly. Also, having a “command center” for all of the incoming and outgoing school papers and assignments helps to alleviate the problem of important information getting lost.

Stock up on school supplies before or right after school begins to ensure your child has all the necessities to do his or her work.

Starting Out With Good Study Habits

After a long summer, your child may have difficulty establishing a homework routine. Cultivating successful study habits should begin the instant school starts, rather than when the workload becomes overwhelming.

The U.S. Department of Education offers guidelines for helping with homework. It suggests creating a space that’s conducive for your child to do his or her work, building homework time into a child’s daily schedule, and discussing homework assignments with your child. Of course, rewards are helpful for enabling your child’s good study habits, so don’t forget to give them a pat on the back and a little something extra from time to time.
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