Lianne Castelino shares some of her tried and tested back to school tips for the new school year. In part two of this two part series Lianne discusses types of schools, after school activities and the importance of consistent schedules at home.
In part one Lianne discussed tips for getting ready for that first day including shopping and lunch preparation. Today she shares tips that work for her family throughout the school year.
1. Private or Public School?
With a child in private, and two in public school, my husband and I have learned a thing of two on this topic over the years. We have always judged the quality of the school by what our child looks like exiting the building. Are they happy, enthusiastic, eager to share their school experiences when you pick them up, at dinner time or are they the opposite?
If they are happy, chances are they are learning and engaged.
If they are not happy, everything else is also a negative experience.
Whatever school system you decide on, research relentlessly but within reason — pick 3 credible sources — word of mouth, online forums, school test scores — are three examples. Do not overwhelm yourself, but be educated about your decision.
Depending on your budget, let your child select one sport and one arts-type activity (music, dance, drawing, singing, etc). Whether he or she is athletically inclined or not is irrelevant. Sport is important for a host of reasons in addition to exercise. Encourage them to get involved in school sports and activities as soon as they are able to do so (depending on their age).
One sport and one arts activity feeds two critical parts of the brain and psyche, not to mention the physical and emotional benefits. You can choose to have them change choices each school year — the key is exposure. The more a child is exposed to, the better chance they have of deciding what they like, what they may be good at and simply enjoy the pure pleasures that discovery bring.
A healthy dose of butterflies buzzing in ones’ stomach the night before school, the first week of school is natural and a good thing. Don’t let too much analysis, paranoia or irrational thoughts spoil the wonder and anticipation of this journey. Negative thoughts usually emanate more from the parental brain than the child’s.
Keep involvement in school to a healthy arms’ length relationship. This strategy helps everyone in the long run, most importantly your guilt-level and sanity. Over volunteering, too much zealousness, constant presence and general uber involvement is like too much of anything. Moderation is a practical, rational and sensible approach.
Try to resist the temptation to measure your parenting skills against those of other parents. If your child says everyone in their class has an ipod, you don’t need to buy your kid one if you deem that he does not need one, as an example.
In the days leading up to the first day of school, during the period of school supply shopping, which should be approached with the same measured, organized and sane strategy as the clothing purge and purchase — set aside a half an hour to get your kids to devise their own school schedule — starting from when they get up to when they get to bed. Get your children involved in the schedule. They can:
- Print it
- Decorate it
- Post it on their door or in their room (or wherever easily visible)
The schedule can be broken up into sections before school and after school and should include such responsibilities as:
6 :00am Get up
6 :15am Brush teeth
6 :17am Make bed
3 :30pm Bus arrives
3 :35pm Unpack bag and lunch bag, eat snack.
3 :40pm Play outside
4 :30pm Do homework
The schedule does not have to be too detailed so as to be intimidating, but a friendly reminder of proper organization and time management which are always important lessons for all of us to learn.
Establish a ritual of 20 minutes of reading a day. If your child reads even 10 pages in that time, every day – that’s 3,650 pages in a year which amounts to roughly 10-15 book of 300 pages in length!
Reading time can take place:
- After dinner — which allows digestion to take place, ensures people are still quite awake and can be developed as a family activity that everyone is involved in (reading individually or parents helping children to read)
- Before bedtime (although sometimes is trumped by everyones’ exhaustion and ends up putting everyone to bed before any quality reading is achieved)
Hopefully these few proven tips can help your entire family embrace the wonder and excitement of a new school year!
* * * * *
How do you encourage reading at your house? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.