FAMILY & CHILDCARE — Understanding which mindset your kids are taking into this school year can help you set the stage for success. Heading back to the classroom is a big change following a summer of fun in the sun. Some kids eagerly embrace the idea of once again being surrounded by friends and thrive on the familiar tempo a new school year brings. Others resist the disruption to their laid-back lifestyle.
“Even students who are excited about the new school year can benefit from a structured transition plan,” said Robyn Knecht, director of counseling for St. Joseph’s Indian School, a Native American residential school that helps students move beyond the cycle of poverty, addiction and mental illness with an education and opportunities for a brighter future. “Talking with your student about what aspects of school they’re looking forward to, and where they might have worries, allows you to tailor your transition plan to their needs.”
Start this school year off right with these tips for a smooth transition from the education experts at St. Joseph’s.
1. Get Back into a Routine
During the summer months, when there’s no bus to catch or school bell to beat each morning, many kids have different sleep schedules and less formal routines throughout the day.
As you approach the start of a school year, begin easing back toward your classroom routine by gradually making bedtimes and wake-up times earlier. Introduce some structure with projects that blend play with learning to help re-engage those thinking caps.
2. Set Attainable Academic Goals
Having high educational aspirations is a protective factor that may help youth avoid at-risk behaviors. Goals should be based on the child’s abilities. Asking a student who consistently earns Bs to suddenly become a straight-A student probably isn’t realistic.
However, you can ask your child to create goals that push his or her comfort boundaries, such as aiming for mostly B-pluses on first quarter report cards. Setting milestone goals that ladder up to larger, longer-term goals allows your student to build self-esteem, celebrate successes and stay motivated on the journey.
3. Make Organization a Priority
Modeling good organizational skills can help your student develop good habits that allow him or her to demonstrate a commitment to school and school-related responsibilities. For younger kids, that may be creating a designated place to store backpacks when they get home so you avoid the morning scramble.
You can ask kids of all ages to help manage a file system where you keep school papers that need to be signed and returned. Older kids can benefit from learning how to keep to-do lists and their own calendars to manage school, sports, activities and social commitments.
4. Build Positive Relationships
While your parental involvement at home plays a vital role in your student’s success, so does positive engagement with supportive teachers at school. Leading up to the start of the school year, make a point to meet new teachers and develop connections that show your student he or she has a team of resources ready to share in celebrating achievements and provide a helping hand if challenges arise.
5. Encourage Involvement in Social Activities
Particularly for a student who lacks enthusiasm about school, finding areas for him or her to explore personal interests and excel can be particularly valuable. Treat the start of the school year as an opportunity to discover which social clubs and activities are available and find one (or more) that sparks enthusiasm.
These non-academic settings can play a helpful role in developing close relationships with positive peers, which is another protective factor that supports positive outcomes for youth.