Preparing for Back to School? Five tips for parents
As we hit the halfway point of summer break and thoughts turn to “back to school,” how are your kids feeling about that? True excitement is pretty rare (and if so, lucky you!). But mixed emotions are a happy medium: Kids may dislike their free time ending and homework returning, but begrudgingly admit to looking forward to seeing friends and learning new things.
As parents, we want our children to enjoy school — or at the very least, not hate it! Our kids spend so much time there, and we know it’s hard for them to get the education they need for college and adulthood if they’re busy bemoaning their circumstances. Of course, if your child is starting at a new school, that’s a natural reason for anxiety to outweigh excitement.
“I can only control my own performance. If I do my best, then I can feel good at the end of the day.” — Michael Phelps
While parents can’t really control a child’s attitude toward school, they can definitely influence it. Here are five ways parents can help their kids have a better school year:
- Recognize that your attitude is contagious. Your infectious enthusiasm about school should start early — before preschool — and become a lifelong habit. Channel the zeal you feel about your favorite hobby when you talk to your child about all the reasons school is amazing: the importance of education, how fun it is to learn, how awesome it is to make friends.And this one gets personal, but try not to be cranky in the morning. Wake up a little earlier and have a cup of coffee before you wake your kids, if necessary. Anything it takes to get them to school on time and send them off with a smile.
- Keep communication lines open. First, build a relationship with your child’s teachers, volunteering at school if possible but, if not, staying informed by reading newsletters and emails. Speak about teachers respectfully to your children so that they will respect and obey them. Talk frequently to your kids as well. Be curious about their homework, classroom experiences and friends. Ask discussion questions at non-threatening times, such as while going for a walk or coloring together.
- Manage anxiety, which can take many forms. Separation anxiety most frequently occurs during times of family stress or when a child is about to enter a new school. Combat it with one-time statements such as “I will see you after school and I am confident that you will be okay” and “You can talk to (name of trusted adult) if you need help.” If your child’s anxiety is related to school work, help them learn how to break big projects into measurable chunks, and take more practice tests at home.
- Work the “friend” angle. Sometimes, kids need tips on how to make friends, so teach them how to introduce themselves, find common interests and become an active listener. If your child is struggling socially, make the teacher aware. Teachers are great at identifying kids who have similar interests and facilitating connections. Support budding friendships by scheduling play dates that revolve around that common interest.
- Prepare to problem solve with an open mind. If your child is struggling academically and your homework and studying strategies aren’t cutting it, bring in support, such as hiring a tutor. And don’t rule out a big change, such as changing a classroom or even changing schools. Such situations are atypical, but occasionally they’re exactly what the student needs.
From all of us at Florida Prepaid, we’re wishing you and your children a successful school year!
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