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5 Strategies to Help Ensure a More Productive School Year for Your Child

Updated on February 18, 2015
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It's about that time of the year when the school bell starts to ring, the yellow bus rounds the corner, and the kids grab their backpacks stuffed with notebooks, pencils and rulers. It can take quite a bit of preparation to get your child ready for this day, especially after a long summer of vacations, late nights, and days full of play. Getting ready for the school year can be just as adventurous and exciting! The key is to start early and move into the mind set of school mode gradually.

1. Build up the anticipation.

Make it a celebration, suggest parents and subscribers of Redbook magazine. In their article, "Back-to-School Is Back!" parents give anecdotal accounts of ways they build up motivation and excitement in their kids for the coming school year.

Some parents create a countdown to the first day of school. They designate special days in the countdown to prepare for the school year (i.e., trips to the store, day at the park or library, make-a-craft day). The first day of school can be celebrated with a large breakfast, special lunches with notes from mom and dad, and/or dinner at a restaurant.

Other parents select and read stories related to the beginning of school. They take the time to talk with their children about what they will learn that year in school. If their child is moving on to middle or high school, they'll talk about the different classes and routines they'll encounter.

2. Take your child shopping.

Include your child in shopping activities with budgeting in mind. Before heading off to the store or online for school supplies or clothes, help your child create an inventory of all the supplies and clothes that are available and in good condition. Likewise, keep track of supplies that need to be replenished.

Shop for lunch and after school snack items together. Although you want your child (with a sweet tooth) to have a say so in this matter, try to encourage healthy snacks. Luckily, in today's market, there is a wide selection of healthy foods that resemble the "junk foods" of yesterday.

Also, stop by the barber or hair salon on the way and have your child get a "new school year haircut." Make this a ritual! Getting a new do can symbolize a new start and new way of thinking.

What of these strategies has helped best prepare your child for another school year?

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3. Contact the school.

Many schools provide some form of orientation before the school year begins. This is an excellent opportunity to tour the school, find classrooms, practice locating and opening up lockers, gather information on any immunizations or physicals your child may need, and most importantly, meet the teacher or teachers.

Kat Eden, a consultant with education.com, encourages initial and continuous communication with the teacher(s) throughout the school year. Find out how the teacher prefers to communicate (i.e., emails, notes, phone calls) and make it a point to contact the teacher once a month to discuss your child's progress at school and home. Eden also encourages parents to keep the teacher in the loop when they notice any social or academic issues arising with their child. Let your child know that you and the teacher are a team working to help him/her have a successful school year!

4. Get the house in school mode.

Start adjusting schedules and routines about two weeks before the first day of school. Adjust the time your child wakes and goes to sleep a few minutes earlier every few days until they reach realistic times for the school year. Likewise, plan meals around the time your child would typically eat during the school year.

Modify the space and supplies around the house to compliment school related activities. Designate an area for coats and backpacks near entry/exit way. Have your child help set up a study area with a table and additional space for writing utensils and other supplies. Make sure that this area will have minimal, if any, noise and set a time after school that homework will be completed in this area.

5. Address concerns and brainstorm solutions.

Going back to school may be very grueling for some children due to unresolved issues or concerns from a previous school year. They may feel bullied, misunderstood by teachers, or without a friend. Christine Steendahl, mother and creator of themenumom.com, emphasizes keeping the lines of communication open with your child. Especially with teenagers, a parent may feel like words are traveling in one ear and out the other. Steendahl stresses the importance of letting your child know they have someone close by and concerned that they can reach out to at any time.

Talk to your child about possible options and solutions to a given problem. Steer free from a judgmental or accusatory demeanor. Instead, encourage trust and honesty.

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