With Labor Day a week away, households with school age kids can sense a change of seasons in the air: the coming of the new school year.
The signs are evident. At Kent County High, the athletic teams are already practicing and scrimmaging. Summer fun-seekers are late August hermits speed-reading summer book lists. The Back to School sales are in full force. Pass through the aisles of Dollar General, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree and Walgreens and you cannot miss shelves loaded with everything from the old school black and white composition books and yellow pencils to pens, notebooks, book bags and lunch boxes in the dynamic colors that drive the modern school supplies market. And the reminder on clothing racks across town that Back to School means the coming of Fall, cooler weather, shorter days, and seasonal change.
How does a parent bring order to this annual transition, particularly for young students new to school or have not yet reached veteran status?
We checked in with Spy Columnist and Head of Kent School Nancy Mugele, herself busy preparing for the coming year.
She offers three tips:
1. Return to a normal bed time schedule. “The summer affords all of us a chance to relax and bend the rules of play time and sleep time. At least one week before school begins have your child go to bed using your ‘school’ bedtime routine. Read a story aloud or let your child read in bed before turning out the light. For Middle School children please take their smart phones and devices away so they can rest. Begin waking at the time you would get ready for school. Hard as this may be, it does get easier.”
2. Purchase school supplies together. “If your school sends a list of items over the summer that your child needs to bring on the first day of school, please do it. Children feel anxious if they do not have all of the correct supplies. Buying these supplies with your child helps them connect to school and begin to think about their new academic year.”
3. Establish a strong after school plan that your child knows. “Nothing makes a child more anxious than not knowing who is picking up at the end of the day or if they need to go to the school’s after school program. Especially if both parents work, be clear about the plans yet always let your child know if there is going to be a change, or if there is a possibility of a change.”
She also provides some parting advice applicable to all students: “Children thrive with routines – morning, after school, homework time, and evening. The best thing you can do to help your child succeed in school is maintaining established routines at home. And, smile, school is meant to be a joyful place for your child to spend their days!”