Yes, it’s still sweltering hot and we should be lounging at the pool instead of squeezing into desks but sadly we have no choice. Summer flies by and school is back in session soon, folks! There’s always a mix a sadness and excitement as back-to-school supplies hit the Target shelves and kids eagerly pick out their new backpacks.
Finding just the right 3-ring binder and highlighters can be tricky, moms, but the supplies are just some of the worries we have.
- Who’s my child’s new teacher?
- Do they have a friend in their new class?
- Will they find their new classrooms in middle and high school?
- Is the bully in their class?
- Where are we shopping for their new tennis shoes?
- Did they finish their summer reading list?
Wait, summer. We aren’t ready! The list goes on and anxiety can run high but this is also a wonderful time to make a great start and positive first impression. The first week of school will be important as the teachers will already be forming opinions about their students.
First, talk to your kids about how they can make a good first impression with their teachers. Model good and poor behavior , and then have them role-play only the good. Model introducing yourself to the teacher with a sweet smile, introduction, good eye contact, and even handshake. Review raising your hand to speak and using polite words. It sounds silly but can really leave a positive year-long impression if children start with some polite and responsible habits early on.
- So, have them practice and tell them what you expect. Tell them to keep their teacher happy!
In addition to modeling how to impress the teacher, explain and show them how to introduce themselves to new friends. Your child’s social life will be as important, if not more important to them than their grades so emphasize the importance of being a nice kid that others will want to be around. Again, model introductions complete with good eye contact and introductory questions. Just a couple getting-to-know-you questions will go a long way to setting the stage for friendships and discovering others that are like-minded.
- What are 3 simple questions they can ask? Again, practice!
And, if you want your kids to be genuinely likeable, or at least until they get home, you need to start practicing going to sleep earlier the week before school starts! Those first couple weeks are killer on the whole family so wean yourselves into those early mornings. This does mean turning back bedtime, in 15 -minute intervals, the week before school starts.
Children ages 3-5 need 10-13 hours of sleep a night. Kids ages 6-12 need an average of 9-12 hours a night according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Teens ages 13-18 still need 8-10 hours. Most of us are sleep-deprived, and this is preventable. Requiring a bedtime and prioritizing sleep will benefit your child’s mood making them a more energized and engaged student.
- Get your beauty rest!
Lastly, get organized. Having everything you need the night before will make the morning rush so much less hectic. Have a designated area for stuff like backpacks. Having your children lay out their clothes the night before can save time and fights. And, having lunches packed the night before will allow for a smoother start. Even try having your kids prepare them.
- Start good habits early to make your mornings easier.
Have a shower schedule and know when everyone is doing what! It will make your children feel less anxious and more in control. Routines help everyone in the family, really. Sticking to routines is one of the most important things we can provide for our kids. When they feel secure, it’s one less thing they need to worry about at school.
- Have a schedule and start routines.
Do homework right away. Not only do the teachers form an opinion about the kids the first month of school but also about the parents! Ask, keep up with, and look over homework (because sometimes our precious children won’t initiate starting their homework!). Sign their folders and make sure your kids are on top of it the first couple weeks, especially. Asking your children to do homework around the same day every day helps, as well as doing it early in the afternoon or evening.
Good habits will follow you through the year; it’s really more like family habits! If you want to eat dinner together during the week, expect a certain bedtime, and see polite manners, make expectations known and start strong. Set the bar high and go in with a good attitude. And if nothing else, like I often say, fake it ‘til you make it!