The first sign that summer is coming to an end has been spotted. You can’t miss it. It’s the sale of every school supply imaginable. Book bags, pens, pencils, glue sticks, spiral note pads, compasses, calculators, three-ring binders, gym shoes, and clothes have already been observed for sale in a variety of stores. Soon to follow will be back to school sales in magazines, newspapers, television ads, and store flyers.
Many parents have begun the process of thinking about what their children will need to go back to school in style. Their thoughts have been initiated by the plethora of materials in plain sight in many stores. But what do children really need in order to be ready for school? Perhaps getting children school ready involves more than purchasing stuff. Maybe something more than mere school supplies is what is needed to give children a great beginning to the school year. Maybe the best get-ready-for-school items are not found at the mall or your local department store. Maybe they aren’t even items.
School readiness can not be purchased in a store. It can only be created by conscious parents who set out to create that readiness with purpose and intentionality. School readiness is a process and a state of mind, not a series of products. Consider the following.
1. Start the normal school schedule early. Break the summer sleep-in/stay-up late mode. Begin the morning and evening school routine at least two weeks before school actually starts. Don’t expect that you child will be able to make the adjustment to getting up for school quickly or easily without a break-in period. Take the full two weeks to work into the routine slowly by adjusting the bedtime and wakeup time a few minutes every day until the desired time is reached. Your goal is to have the schedule set prior to the first day of school.
2. Create a positive attitude about going back to school. Talk to your children about being able to see their friends, meet their new teacher and all the opportunities that being at school provides. Focus on your child’s area of interest and emphasize all the ways in which school helps to enhance that topic. When your child speaks negatively, redirect him into the positive.
3. Visit the school. Reacquaint your child with the school. During the summer classrooms change, teachers transfer to new buildings, principals are reassigned, and new playground equipment gets installed. Don’t wait for orientation day to get reacquainted. Go to the school now and play on the play ground, meet the new principal or office personnel, and talk to the janitor.
4. Set goals for the upcoming school year. Help your children create realistic expectations for themselves about school. Talk about what they want to accomplish this school year, not what you want them to accomplish. Remember not all of school is about grades. Making new friends, speaking out in class, standing up for oneself, staying organized, and managing behavior are all crucial skills for a successful school year.
5. Model learning. Create a time in your home when everyone is involved in learning related activities such as reading, playing with numbers, telling family stories, journaling, or quiet reflection. Turn off the television and video games and have a set time for the whole family to feed their brain. In fact, model learning year round, even through the summer months. This will set the stage for homework. A study time can be a logical extension of the learning time you have in your home.
Give your children every opportunity to be ready for school this year. Head to the mall or department store with your list of needed items and remember to add to your list the suggestions above. By doing so you give your kids what they really need to be prepared for this school year—structure, energy, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude.
Guest article written by Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman. Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are authors and leading parenting authorities. Visit their blog at www.uncommon-parenting.com.