Back-to-School Tips

Heidi Ehrenberg
School Counselor

HeidiWelcome back OLG families, and welcome new families! I hope summer was a time of rest, fun, and rejuvenation!
Beginning the school year on a positive note can impact children’s attitude, confidence, and performance both socially and academically. Moving from August to September can be challenging. Even students who are excited to return to class must adjust to more activities, structure, and other pressures of school life. Stress levels for young and older students alike can be a bit higher until routines settle into place.

Establishing a school routine is key to a smooth start and is important throughout the school year. How long does it take your child to get up, dress, have breakfast, and gather belongings before heading out the door? Leave plenty of time so the day doesn’t start in a mad dash. Rushing can set the tone for the day… Be clear about after school activities, or supervised care. Does your child know who is picking him or her up, where, and when?

Nurture a sense of independence. Gradually your child will be required to manage more and more on his/her own. It may be organizing school materials, writing down assignments, completing homework and returning it promptly. Even younger students can build confidence and a sense of independence when they are able to write their own name, or tie their own shoes without asking an adult for help.

Set up a time and space for homework. Head off daily battles by making homework a part of your child’s everyday routine. Commit to a time and place for studying. A quiet area with a desk, where study materials can stay put is ideal. But even if it’s the kitchen table, it really helps if kids know that’s where they sit and do homework, at the same time of the day if possible. Make yourself available during homework time, especially with younger kids. You might cook or read the paper. Remember, kids mimic your behavior. Focus on your own projects while they do homework, rather than watching TV or being on the phone.

Organization saves time and reduces stress. Help your child get accustomed to a calendar schedule, like the one they’ll use to manage their classes and extracurricular activities. Talk to your child to review with them their schedules, assignments and activities for the week ahead. Create a family calendar that highlights family activities and everyone’s major commitments. This helps make planning easier, while pinpointing scheduling conflicts. September is a good time, too, to set or refresh rules about technology and screen time during the school year. What’s allowed and when? Set a weekday and a weekend bedtime. (It will take time for sleep patterns to get back to school mode!)

Help your child prioritize their activities each week, including sports, homework, and family time. How can you acknowledge your child’s efforts when they follow routines, finish homework, and help around the house. The more kids have ownership in creating a routine for themselves and setting expectations, the more likely they are to follow it. I wish you all a wonderful year of growth and discovery!