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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tips on Tuesday: Back to School

Depending on where in the country you live, you might have already completed back to school, you might be in the midst or you might be just starting to think about it. In the Midwest, we go back in mid-August so it's almost D-day here.

A few tried and true tips to get you and your little ones off on the right foot.
* Be excited for your child. If you show that you are scared for them or worried about their returning to school, they will pick up on that and increase their own anxiety. Talk about the fun them will have--for the younger ones. For your older kids, be excited, but be a good listener. Ask what they are excited about and what makes them nervous. We've got a lot of transition this year with one going to middle school and one going to high school. So we talk a lot about the similarities and differences between schools.

* Practice makes perfect. Many kids lose up to three months of their education over the summer. Reading is the easiest way to keep retention up across the board. While they may have lost information if you didn't read much over the summer, I'm a firm believer that it's never too late. Read with your kids--or have them read on their own when old enough--for at least 20 minutes a day. Creating a reading habit now will help you have lifelong readers. It will also go a long way in making sure they don't lose too much information over the summer.

* Early to bed, early to rise. If you're like us, you have let bedtime slide...quite a lot in our case...over the summer. Start backing up bedtime--and getting up time by 10-15 minutes a day. Do this for a week or more before school starts to get body clocks back onto school time. Try not to make a big jump. Suddenly backing up bedtime by an hour is only going to be an exercise in futility. Your kids won't be sleepy and won't head off to dreamland well. Little by little, move it backwards so they don't feel a large jump in the time frame.

* Pack ahead of time. Prepack backpacks and have clothes laid out the night before school starts. Have breakfast plans in mind so it's not a scramble. Seems like the first day of school is always a mad dash to the finish line. Don't add stress to yourself (or your kids) by leaving everything to the last minute.

* Finally, don't be a helicopter parent. You know helicopter parents, always hovering nearby. It makes the transition to school even harder for your younger child--and your older kids don't want you anywhere near them. It breaks my heart every year to see kids crying in the room and their parents just won't go. I promise, your child will adjust better if you make a clean break of it. Teachers are trained professionals. They know how to help your child dry his/her tears and have a successful and happy day. It may not be perfect and it may take a little time for the tears to stop each morning...but when you hover, it feeds their drama and the tears won't stop. Hug, kiss, word of encouragement, I love you and out the door. Don't look back. Trust your teacher and the school staff.

Remember, back to school should be an exciting time for you and your little ones. With a little preparation and planning, it can be a smooth transition to a wonderful world of learning.

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