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Tips for Back to School Success

August 24, 2017 | “Child Development”

Tips for Back to School Success

Aug 24, 2018

Ready, set, go… back to school! With a new school year comes new expectations, teachers, opportunities and challenges, and possibly even a new school. For parents and children alike the new school year is a chance to learn and grow together. Parents are instrumental in their child’s school success, after all!
To help you and your child have a successful school year we’re sharing a few tips for each educational milestone:
Pack the tissues and get ready for your child’s very first school milestone – the First Day of School! It’s okay if you need to use the tissues just thinking about it; the tissues were meant for you. It’s common for both parents and kids to feel excited and nervous in the weeks and days leading up to the first day of school. So to make sure everything goes off with a hitch, here are some tips to get you both ready and through the first day of school.
Prepare for kindergarten: Make reading a daily activity. Use this time to identify letters, words, numbers, and make connections. Your children will feel much more comfortable exploring new concepts and ideas in the classroom with the confidence gained at home. There are also a number of free kindergarten readiness apps that make learning fun. Check out this list of free educational apps to get started.
Practice your morning routine: Do a drop-off dry run or practice the bus routine (where you will wait for the bus together and where you will be waiting when they return) so your kids know what to expect. Visit the school and walk around. Familiarity gained through practice will help boost their confidence and lessen any apprehension they might have.
Get organized the night before: Mornings rarely ever go as planned so prepare what you can the night before. You can prep breakfast, lunch and snacks, pack their school bag, and most importantly, you and your child can pick out what they are going to wear to school the next day. This is a great habit to start now and it will prevent many morning scrambles and/or meltdowns to allow for more relaxed start to the day.
First Day of School Pictures: Factor into your morning extra time to take a few pictures before they leave for school. Make sure you remember to charge your camera the night before and check the memory card for space, and this applies to a phone or tablet as well. There is no shortage of “first day of school” photo ideas. A quick search online will bring back thousands of results.
Elementary School
The start of elementary school can be both exciting and intimidating for both children and their parents. A good start to the school year can influence your child’s attitude, confidence, and performance both academically and socially. But switching from a summer schedule into a school routine can be stressful for everyone. Here are a few tips on how to ease into the school year and set your child up for success:
Ease into the school year: Seasoned moms know that you can’t go from summer and fall into the back to school routine with a flip of switch. It takes weeks to ease into a new routine and reset your kids’ internal clocks. Start by slowing going to bed and waking a littler earlier every couple of days. Middle school and teenagers would benefit from this as well.

Create a master calendar: A large, printed calendar in a highly trafficked area of the house is a great idea for elementary-school-aged kids. Some parents recommend the large “teacher desk” calendars since there plenty of room to include everyone’s activities on the calendar and they typically come with fun stickers. This way your children, and you, can see what is happening through out the week and month at a glance and will help them mentally prepare. Track everything from doctor’s appointments to after-school activities to school events.
Do a dry run: before the start of a new school year, run through what the day will look like from wake up to bed time. Wake them a little earlier each morning in the days ahead of starting to get them use to the change, and incorporate aspects of their school day morning and after school routines.
Get involved: Show your kids’ that you are invested in their education by volunteering at the school. Find an opportunities - many schools post openings on their website – and start a count down at home.
Middle School
Middle school and the tween years all in one package – oh my! Don’t worry these tips will help you and your child get ready for a year full of new experiences as you both find independence from one another. 
Routine still matters: For many kids, middle school means starting at a new school. Will they be bused to school, walk with friends, or be dropped off? Before the first day of school, talk about what the morning and afternoon school routine will look like. And even though they are older, routine still matters. Follow the tips for elementary school students and ease into the new routine in the weeks and days leading up to the first day of school.
Study time/space: Before school starts find a suitable, dedicated study area for your child to do homework and study – preferably somewhere quiet and away from distractions. Get them involved in setting this up and in the creating a back-to-school list of supplies – you can always remind them that this was a decision you made together when they insist they can do homework in front of the TV or computer screen.
Screen time: Before school begins it’s a good time to go over limitations and expectations around screen time. Many schools and teachers use digital classrooms to share homework, do group work and even turn in homework. Check out these five tips for setting screen time boundaries here: Screen Time Boundaries
Get organized: Projects and group work will become more common in middle school. Help them manage the additional workload and time commitments by teaching them how to use their school planner to manage multiple deadlines. Thankfully many teachers will set multiple milestones so your children learn how to breakdown projects into smaller, achievable tasks. Through out the year support them by reviewing their school planner on a daily or weekly basis.
Encourage participation: Most middle schools offer an abundance of other experiences beyond the classroom from athletics to the school band to a number of clubs. Encourage your child to explore their interests and try new things. Reassure them that you will be there to help them find balance and time for schoolwork and friends through planning, compromise and patience.
High School
Grade nine is a big year for most teens. Typically the message they hear from teachers and friends is to expect more homework, less support and a tricky new social dynamic they need to navigate. The first few weeks can be scary, confusing and even overwhelming. While there are new expectations and responsibilities, high school can be a fun and enjoyable experience that they will look back on with fondness. Here are a few tips to help ease with the transition:
Practice the transportation route: Some students may be taking public transportation to school for the first time. Take the route a few times with your child so they feel comfortable getting on or off at their stops and know how to pay the fare.
Attend orientation: If at all possible do not miss orientation day. This day is designed for grade nine students to help them become familiar with the school, get their locker and timetable, and meet other grade students in a less intimidating environment.
Expect homework: There will be homework. How much and the type of homework depends on the subject and the teacher. Thankfully most teachers will hand out a course outline highlighting homework, projects, tests and exam breakdown, and how to access their digital classroom. Review this with your child and what it means in terms of class commitment and expectations. Once broken down, it will feel much more manageable. Also go online with them to learn how to navigate the digital classroom. Find where homework and assignments are posted and learn how to submit class work. This will be extremely helpful if your child has a sick day.

Encourage them to self-advocate: Let them know the teachers and the guidance counsellors are there to help them succeed. Encourage them to ask questions or follow-up with their teacher regarding an assignment or test mark that didn’t go as well as expected. If they feel anxious to do this during class-time, let them know they can send an email to their teacher. By speaking up your child learns how to become more independent and confident in steering their education in the right direction.

Plan for peer pressure: Peer pressure can and does happen. Create an open dialogue with your teen to talk to you. Or if they don’t feel comfortable talking to you let them know they can turn to a teacher, school counsellor or you can find them support outside of the school system.

Encourage extracurricular activity: Most high schools have something for everyone. From sports to theatre to academic clubs to special interest groups – chances are there will be something your teen finds interesting. Encourage them to join. Not only will they get the chance to further explore their interests and meet new people, extracurricular activities add to the over all high school experience. It will boost their confidence and engagement in school and are the key to high school success.

Make a volunteer hours plan: If your child attends high school in a province with mandatory volunteers hours, we would advise to get them completed in the first few years. Many volunteer positions fill up quickly and as the workload becomes heavier in the senior years you want to add this to their plate sooner rather than later.
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