Although the days are still long, the weather is still warm, and the pool is still calling our names, it is indeed time to go back to school. The prospect of starting a new school year elicits many emotions for both students and parents—anticipation, anxiety, excitement, and optimism, among many others. At BASIS Charter Schools, we strive to make the transition from summer break to the new school year as smooth as possible, ensuring our students start the year off right. Here are some ways you can help your children have a successful first week of school, and rest of the year.
Consistency is the key to ensuring that your children come to school relaxed, well-rested, and ready to work. During summer break, children can experience a dramatic shift in routine—staying up late at night and waking up late in the morning. However, when school year begins again, it is essential to make sure they are getting enough sleep. To do this, establish a consistent bedtime routine for your children: have them pick out their outfit for the next day; do something relaxing, like drawing or reading; and have a set bedtime each night. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, prepare and pack lunches the night before to alleviate extra stress in the morning.
Having a solid morning routine is just as important as having a consistent night routine, as hectic mornings can result in homework and other important school materials getting left behind. It is a good idea to have your children wake up at the same time each day, eat a balanced breakfast, get ready, and check to make sure all their school materials are ready to go. If you have younger children, you can try creating a morning checklist for them. Also, remember to always leave a little extra time in case something unexpected happens, like spilled breakfast or a last-minute outfit change.
Plan healthy meals and snacks
Food is fuel for both the body and mind, which is why having healthy meals are a must for children to maintain energy and concentration throughout day. However, between school, work, and extracurricular activities, things can get a bit hectic and it becomes difficult to find time to plan and prepare healthy meals. To create a tasty and healthy lunch, try breaking the meal down into the following categories:
- Main dish: turkey and cheese roll-up, veggie wrap with hummus, cheese quesadilla, pasta salad
- Fruit: grapes, banana, apple or orange slices, berries, peaches, watermelon
- Vegetable: carrots, cucumber, celery, edamame, snap peas, grape tomatoes (you can add ranch, Italian dressing, or hummus for a tasty dipping sauce)
- Water: it is always a good idea to keep hydrated
Then, you can mix-and-match the different items and introduce a few new ones for good variety. After you have lunch down, try making some of these quick-and-easy snacks (some can even double as breakfast): healthy trail mix, no-bake energy bites, granola bars, apple chips, smoothies, cheese and crackers, fruit nachos, and berries and yogurt.
Remember: you should always be aware of your school’s policy with nuts, especially peanuts, when packing lunch.
Having good organization skills is critical for students to be successful in school, and in life. To help your children stay organized throughout the school year, remember to check their Communication Journals (CJs) every night for homework assignments and teachers’ notes, and have them periodically go through their backpacks to make sure all school work and supplies are in the proper spots. It also helps to demonstrate good organization skills for your children—keep all your school paperwork forms in one place and a calendar to keep track of extracurricular activities, field trips, and school holidays, so there are no last-minute surprises.
Reinforce good study habits
Helping your children develop good homework practices will greatly benefit them as their work load begins to increase. Children should have a clean, consistent work space, where they can sit down and focus without any noise or distractions—even if that means leaving their cell phone in another room. It is also important to schedule a set amount of time for homework each night.
If you find that your child is struggling with a particular course or topic, all BASIS Charter School teachers keep Student Hours—time set aside each week to provide additional support outside of the regular school day. Our schools also offer peer tutoring (usually starting in September) to reinforce academic independence and accountability.
Set academic goals
A great strategy to prepare for success in school is to set academic goals at the beginning of the school year. Take some time to sit down with your children and help them come up with well-defined goals for each class, asking them what they specifically want to achieve and coming up with strategies for how to do it. Once their goals are written out, post the paper someplace where it will be easily visible (on the fridge, pinned to a corkboard, slipped in the cover of a binder, etc.).
Encourage extracurricular participation
While academics are certainly a top priority, it is also important for students to develop social skills while in school. A great way for students to do this is by participating in extracurricular activities, which help them make new friends, step out of their comfort zone, explore new interests, and discover new talents. Try talking to your children about some interests they may like to pursue, then go through your school’s list of extracurricular opportunities and let them pick the ones that sound the most interesting—this is also a great way to build independent decision-making skills. Moreover, your children will learn how to balance extracurricular activities with their academic studies, which many colleges look for among applicants.
No matter what grades your children are in, it’s always good to let them know that you’re interested in hearing about their day and what’s going on at school. Many times children don’t reach out to their parents directly, especially if they are worried or apprehensive about something, so keeping the line of communication open will help them share any issues before it starts affecting their school work. Try asking a few of the following questions to see which ones elicit the best responses:
- Can you tell me about a moment today when you felt excited about what you were learning?
- Were there any moments today when you felt proud of yourself?
- Did you have any interesting conversations with your friends today?
- Do you have any questions about what you learned today?
- Was there anything challenging about your day?
- What did you appreciate most about your day?
- What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
Staying involved in your children’s school lives will not only help them be more successful, but it will also create cherished memories for you because, as they say, children grow up in a blink of an eye.
Have fun and good luck!
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