Starting the Year Right

  • Getting a new school year off to a good start can have a positive influence on a child’s attitude, and confidence; both socially and academically. 

    The beginning of the school year can be difficult for both children and parents. Even children who are eager to return to class must adjust to the greater level of activities and pressures associated with school life. 

    The degree of adjustment depends on the individual child, but parents can help their children by planning ahead, having realistic expectations, and maintaining a positive attitude.

    Parenting Tips

    • Encourage good physical and mental health. Discuss any concerns you have about your child’s emotional health with your pediatrician. Your doctor can help determine if your concerns are normal, and age-appropriate for your child, or if there should be further assessment. Your child will benefit if you can identify and begin addressing a problem before school starts. Schools appreciate the efforts of parents to remedy problems as soon as they are recognized.

    • Review all of the information that is sent from the school as soon as it arrives. Before the start of the school year, parents receive important information about their child’s teacher, room number, school supply requirements, after-school sports and activities, school calendar dates, bus transportation, health and emergency information, and volunteer opportunities.

    • Mark your calendar. Make a note of important dates. This is very important if you have children in more than one school and need to juggle obligations. 

    • Re-establish the bedtime and mealtime routines. Plan to re-establish the bedtime and mealtime (specifically breakfast) at least one week before school starts. Prepare your child for this change by talking about the benefits of school routines, especially in terms of not becoming over-tired or overwhelmed with homework and school activities. Include pre-bedtime and household chores in the school routine if these were suspended over summer.

    • Designate and clear a place to do homework. Older children should have the option of studying in a quiet area of the house. Younger children usually need an area set aside in the family room where parents can supervise their homework and provide encouragement. 

    • Clear you own schedule. To the extent possible, postpone business trips, volunteer meetings, and projects. You want to be free to help your child acclimate to the school routine and overcome the anxiety that many children experience at the start of a new school year. 

    • Make lunches the night before school. Older children should help or make their own. Give them money so they can buy lunch in school if they prefer and if your finances permit.

    • Set alarm clocks. Have school-age children set their own alarm clocks to get up in the morning.

    • Leave plenty of extra time. Make sure your child has plenty of time to get up, complete morning hygiene activities, and eat breakfast.

    • Plan the after-school routine. Make sure that your child is supervised after school if you are not able to be home. Check if your school has any after-school programming. Have a plan with other neighborhood parents, and share phone numbers. 

    • Review your child’s schoolbooks. Talk with child about what they will be learning during the year. Share your enthusiasm and confidence in your child’s ability to master the content. Encourage your child to be patient, attentive, and positive.