With my third child heading into the fourth grade, I am well versed in what to expect each school year. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. I’m not saying my days aren’t without difficulties, but I like to think I’m experienced at this point. Rather than riding off into the sun of summer, I’ve learned to use these extra days to my advantage.
When it comes to school, getting a head start never hurts. No one is saying to skip out on your summer vacation (and let’s face it, it’s your vacation too!) but a little preparedness goes a long way.
Keep To Your Schedule Throughout The Entire Year
Children are creatures of habit. Studies have repeatedly shown that children react best when given a schedule. Much of a child’s development is centered around their schedule. This includes academic and social skills. Disruptions in their schedules can actually lead to health issues. It’s okay to make adjustments (especially if no one needs to be up early anymore) and things happen, but try to maintain the basics. This includes bedtime, meal times, and other activities to which they are accustomed. It will make make the transition back to school much simpler.
Even in the summer, children crave the extra curricular activities they receive at school. My daughters both love making those loom bracelets and my oldest plays violin. My son would prefer soccer or time at the community pool. Allot time for their creative outlets and physical activities. Children thrive in active and creative environments so it’s vital to continue these activities throughout the summer.
Get To Know The Teachers Before The School Year Starts
Teachers look forward to the break as much as the students, but be assured they’re not spending their entire summer poolside. Most schools have meetings throughout summer. The weeks at the end of the school year and beginning of the next school year are spent cleaning, arranging, and generally preparing for the next year. Learning plans have to be laid out before the students arrive and this may mean spending most of their days in their student-less classrooms.
While they’re planning for your little one, you can be planning for them. Talk to other parents who may have experience and get to know their expectations. Nowadays, most schools post every teacher’s email address on their school’s website so don’t be afraid to send them an introductory email.
If your child struggled in a subject in previous years, let them know what areas they’ll need the most help in. Most importantly, let the teacher know that you’re there to work with them. Teachers understand the value in open communication so ensure them that their teachings will continue at home. They care for their students as much as we do and they have nothing but the best intentions for them.
Offer Support With School Sponsored Activities
To prepare for the year ahead, get involved in sponsored activities this summer. The PTA may not be for everyone (and it’s not for me either), but there are many activities available that could use parental support. Talk to the coaches, plan a blood drive with the Red Cross, start a car wash fundraiser, schedule a book fair with Scholastic, or work on the yearbook with Memorybook Publishing.
The key is to find something that interests you. Involve your child and see what would interest them as well. I help by chaperoning the choir’s car wash each year and I think I love it as much as my son.
Keep Their Brains Working With Light School Work Through The Summer
Your child may not like the idea of spending their break doing work, and it goes without mention that mine don’t either. Regardless, it’s important to stay on top of their studies. Many other countries have adopted a system of more breaks over longer breaks, feeling that two or more months without schooling may be damaging to our children. Devoting time to school work will ease them back into the process and prepare them for what’s ahead.
It’s important to not only review what was learned in the previous year, but to practice what’s ahead. Many websites offer lessons and worksheets that can be printed at no cost. Practicing now will make the school year a lot smoother.
While it’s important to get your ducks in a row, don’t forget to have fun. Enjoy the time with your children and create a summer that the whole family will enjoy. As for the school supply shopping, you can worry about that later.