August is here and parents are now trying to prepare their kids and themselves for the first day of school. Back to School 2016 doesn't have to be a last minute frantic mess akin to something you see in large box stores before a Hurricane makes landfall. As a matter of fact, you can do some amazing things that will help your kids make the most of that first day back to school that involves things other than making sure they have enough pens, paper and a backpack.
Preparing for your kid to go back to school can involve other things than just buying new clothes or school supplies. You as a parent can do many things to ensure your child is prepared mentally and socially for their return by following these steps:
1. Ease Into The Routine: The first day back to school should be treated like an Olympic athlete goes to compete--no accomplished athlete can just walk up to a pool and swim the 1,500 meter freestyle, or set a new world record. Neither can bikers on the Tour de France just wake up one day and conquer the Pyrenees. They train for it. They have a routine and so should your kids when it comes to getting back to school!
What time should they be getting up to make the bus? Are your child's breakfast options different than during the summer? Shower schedules? etc? By practicing the Back To School routine a few days in advance, your child will be better prepared (ie; less crying or complaining).
So set their schedule before the first day of class. Set the alarm clock earlier each few days, go through your school morning rituals even though it's still summer so once breakfast is consumed, they can be ready to whisk off to the bus stop or school. Remember that routines help children feel comfortable, and establishing a good First Day of School routine early on will make that day go much smoother when it finally arrives in August.
2. Meet the Teachers: We admit this may be a bit tricky depending on your local school, BUT if you can do this, it could pay off in dividends well beyond the time spent!
Kids go into their first days wondering not only if they'll get along with other kids, but wondering if they will like their teachers. They are apprehensive about their new teachers, especially if they are making a jump and moving from grade school to jr high or high school. By dropping by to introduce them to their new teachers allows your child to experience all the 'breaking the ice' nervousness well before that first day at their desk. So Play Unplugged urges parents to take advantage of those Open Houses before the first day of school and have your kids meet their new teachers to establish that rapport and relationship.
If an Open House is not available, perhaps go and walk around the school and its campus. This too can quell your child's nerves about that first day back to school and give them confidence that they know where they are going and what the school grounds look like! If they are returning to their same school, walk with them and remind them of the good times and stories they told you so they can look forward to seeing their friends again once school begins. :) Taking the time to familiarize your child to their new location (or normal one) helps dissipate their stress and first day jitters.
Also for parents, here are some tips on how you can get the most of your interaction with your child's teacher: CLICK HERE
3. Exercise Their Brains Early: Now we here at Play Unplugged are not saying you should begin intensive testing or homework assignments before summer ends--Hardly! But we are saying that by slowly introducing your kids to 'learning' again does help a bit once the homework assignments begin...
Try taking your children out during the last few weeks from time to time and having them go on, say, a bug hunt or leaf hunt. (Remember we do have a Brag Badge for The Bug Hunter at Play Unplugged Home Version) And when they find cool leaves, they should look up what kind of leaf it is, something unique about it and glue it on a paper or something and report back to you and your spouse what they found and what they learned. Perhaps even add a prize, like say to the local ice cream shop! What parents are doing is getting their kids re-introduced to performing reports and in a very fun and curious manner, acclimating their kids brains to think critically rather than just run around in the hills. (Which btw is GOOD too!)
Instilling these 'mini reports' will only help your kids once their teachers begin asking them to do similar homework as the back to school year begins.
4. Begin Reading With Your Kids: Odds are this summer parents just have let their kids lose to simply run and frolic--and by all means that is AWESOME! However there may be a bit more you can do together which will help them ease back into the learning process when school begins...
The National Literacy Trust cites various studies showing how parents reading with their kids positively affects their performance and learning.
Set up a nightly reading routine as they fall asleep. Spend 20 minutes reading a book together that they themselves choose. The books you choose don't even have to be educational, but spending time reading together will help renew your child's sense of wonder and exploration in books as the school year approaches.
5. Bring The Conversation To Your Kids: Let's face it. We are parents get really caught up in all the things we need to get done before school starts for our kids. When was the last time you spent some one-on-one time with your child, inquiring about their fears and anxiety...and then speaking to them and answering their questions and providing support even before the first bell rings?
Here are some pretty great ideas that allow the parent to get on their kids' levels and focus the conversation as to their fears, apprehensions and possible anxieties.
Play Unplugged knows that back to school season is stressful but knows these tips will help your child ease back into the school routine and make them better students and increase their productivity as young scholars!
Continue having fun with Play Unplugged in your area, as well as our Play Unplugged Home Version and our new Play Unplugged Classroom Version which helps teachers motivate their students to be more productive, participate in the class as well as follow classroom rules and help the teacher! If you believe in and have seen firsthand how Play Unplugged helps kids from your experience, then please feel free to share this link with your child's educators and school administration!
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