9 Tips for Back to School Success

back-to-schoolWhether you have a kindergartner or high-school student, the beginning of a new school year can be chaotic and frustrating without planning and organization. If you haven't done so yet, this is the time for the family to sit down, set priorities, and figure out what responsibilities are going to shift or be added to help account for the changes that a new school year and the fall season bring (cooler weather, shorter days, homework, etc.). Even if school has already started, it's not too late to make sure you've covered most of the bases.

Here's a checklist you can incorporate to help facilitate the transition from summertime  to a new school year:

Arrivals and Departures

Determine who will be responsible for getting the children to and from school. Make sure you have written down arrival and departure times so this information is readily available to everyone concerned.

  • Bus schedule (if applicable)
  • The start and end times for a full day of school, half day, late starts, or early dismissals
  • Before and aftercare hours

Transportation

If applicable, make sure you have covered the bases for the following:

  • Carpooling
  • Bicycle routes (don't forget trial runs)
  • Review walking paths ensuring your child practices safety
  • Bus routes
  • If a sibling is responsible for pickup or departure of younger children, make sure the routine has been explained
  • Determine and practice emergency weather procedures

Medical Requirements

Most schools require this information before or soon after school starts:

  • Updated emergency contact information
  • Vision and hearing exams
  • Physical exams
  • Updated immunizations

 School Supplies

Most schools publish a supply list by grade either before school starts or on the first day so you know what's acceptable.

  • Don't forget your child will need an appropriate carrying case or backpack for books and supplies
  • Allow enough time to order and receive uniforms (if applicable)
  • Don't forget sports equipment and clothing (if applicable)

School Administration

  • Check the school's website to learn what your child is expected to learn based on grade level
  • Read the school handbook
  • Learn school’s emergency system/response times

Parent Involvement

You, your child, and his/her school will reap the benefits of your involvement in your child's education. Here's how:

  • Meet your child's teacher(s), and find out the best way to maintain contact with him/her
  • Attend back-to-school night program
  • Mark school events on family calendar and attend whenever possible
  • Volunteer whenever possible
  • Meet the principal and other administrative staff

Plan Healthy Meals

Help your child(ren) succeed by ensuring they are eating healthy meals. Whether it's at home or school, make sure your child has the opportunity to start the day off right. Breakfast has been deemed to be the most important meal of the day.

  • Alert the school of any food allergies
  • Plan meals in advance
  • Don't forget lunches and after-school snacks
  • Get a copy of the school breakfast/lunch menu so you know what your child is eating

Ground Rules

You will find that family life will run smoother when ground rules have been established. Your child(ren) should know what is expected when it comes to the following:

  • Bedtime (remember younger children should get at least 10 hours of sleep)
  • TV/Videos  - no more than 2 hours per day and a growing trend is only on weekends/holidays
  • Play time - before or after homework?
  • Computers - homework only? What about social sites?
  • Homework/Studying
  • Phone/Texting
  • Dating - weekends only or school nights too?

Prepare Your Child(ren)

  • Discuss feelings about starting school
  • Talk about daily routines
  • Talk about peer pressure and bullying
  • Tour the school with your child; let him/her “time” walking to classes
  • Make sure your child knows his/her home address and phone number, how to contact you, emergency contacts, and whose safe to pick them up.

The beginning of a new school year does not have to be a frustrating event for you or your children. It’s important for the family to maintain a balance. Children can thrive academically when everything is moving in sync.

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Nicole Daniels

Nicole Daniels is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist (LCMFT), Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), AAMFT Approved Supervisor, and a Diplomat of American Association of Clinical Sexology from the American Board of Sexology. She received her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Radford University and has served in the mental health field as a skilled therapist for more than 15 years.
Nicole Daniels
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