Back to school tips for parents

The top 5 tips to help parents and carers of primary school children with back-to-school preparation.

Image: A new school year means new opportunities, growth and seeing friends again.

Going back to school after a few weeks of fun and relaxation is never easy, but kids aren’t the only ones who struggle with it.

Parents also find it difficult when their kids head back to school, and many experience emotions ranging from sadness to anxiety and even resentment.

Fortunately, getting well-prepared a few days in advance can make easing back into the normal school routine a lot less overwhelming for both parents and kids. Here are a few handy back-to-school tips that will make the transition smoother.

Encourage kids to set goals and take responsibility

Encouraging children to set goals and take responsibility for the upcoming school year is a great way to get in them in the right frame of mind. Research shows that kids who participate in setting learning goals are consistently more motivated and take learning more seriously.

Of course, what this means will depend on your child’s age, as a preschooler won’t be able to take on as much responsibility as one heading to primary or secondary school. But even younger children can be given simple goals to focus on, even if it’s just packing their backpack before bed each night.

With younger kids, you can ease into the discussion by reading books about school and talking about the fact that they’ll be heading back soon. Find out what they’ll be working on and if there’s anything specific they’d like to accomplish, and then work together to make a list of steps they’ll need to take to reach those goals.

Engage with their curriculum

If you want to help your child set appropriate learning goals, it’s important to engage with their curriculum and be aware of what they will be learning and are expected to be proficient in.

Most kids deal with some level of stress or anxiety about school. One survey found that 53 per cent of parents cite homework and schoolwork as the greatest driver of stress in their kids. But when parents are aware of what their kids will be learning, they’re better able to provide support and manage stress before school starts again.

It’s always a good idea to talk to your child about what they have been learning, but if you can, try to speak with your child’s teacher as well. This will give you a chance to find out what you can do to support your child at home and also be aware of any specific areas they may need to work on.

Ease into the routine a few days early

During the holidays, schedules are usually more relaxed and kids get used to going to bed and waking up later, which is one of the things that can make the first few days of school difficult. It can help to ease into routine by starting a few days early, so that everyone is already used to waking up on time by the time school starts.

Kids are very sensitive to routines. If getting to sleep on time is a problem after too many late nights, you can try enforcing a No Electronics rule an hour before bedtime so everyone can wind down. Older kids can also use an alarm clock to take responsibility for their own mornings and evenings.

Get organised

The more organised you are the easier your first back-to-school mornings will be, so take the time to plan your morning routine in advance. This may include figuring out what time you need to get up, what you’ll prepare for breakfast and laying out some outfits the night before.

Lunches are also best prepared the night before, and you can even get the kids involved by asking them what they’d like to eat and see if they’d like to help you chop vegetables, prepare sandwiches and organise the kitchen once you’re finished.

Have fun with it

School days may not be as exciting as holidays, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a sombre or boring time. Look for ways to keep things fun, whether it’s upholding family traditions, such as family breakfast and reading or watching a TV series together, or looking for extracurricular activities the kids will enjoy, such as swimming, football or music and art.

Going shopping for new school supplies together and letting kids pick out their own pens, notebooks and other school supplies can also help them get excited about going back to school, even if it means the shopping trip might take a bit longer.

Also keep in mind that kids are often quick to pick up on our attitudes towards things, so try to speak positively about school and emphasise the positive aspects of it, such as their friends and teachers or the cool things they’ll have a chance to learn.

About the author

Marianne Stenger

Marianne Stenger is a writer with Open Colleges, one of Australia's online education providers.

This article was repurposed with permission from ABC Education.


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