The lazy days of summer seem to end abruptly and suddenly there is homework, getting up early and having to really pay attention.
Every school day doesn’t have to be a battle, however.
Gloria McDonald, counselor with the Cleveland School District, said there are several ways to assist children with not only a routine, but a sense of calm when it comes to school.
“The main thing is to start out right each morning,” said McDonald. “ The time you spend with your child in the morning sets the tone for the day. A calm morning before school increases a child’s probability of having a calm, productive day at school.”
It’s not always easy to get children reacquainted with being on a schedule, but once that schedule is set, children often respond positively.
The first and foremost “appointment” on a schedule should be a decent time to go to bed.
“Children need eight hours of restful sleep at night, not in the classroom,” said McDonald.
By setting a bedtime that coincides with their age, children will become accustomed to winding down eventually. It may be hard the first several weeks with over two months of going to bed later still fresh in their minds.
Turn off all lights except for a night light for younger children.
Many children wind down with soothing, low music or a few minutes worth of reading a book.
When morning comes, it’s important to give children plenty of time to wake up without having to rush.
“ Be sure to wake them in time to get dressed and become fully awake,” said McDonald.
McDonald said she could not stress enough the importance of sleep.
“Sleepy children either fall asleep in class or become ‘wired’,” she added.
When children come home from school, they will have days just like adults do at work — hectic.
McDonald said it is important that parents focus on their child’s learning, and not completely harp on the color of their card that day.
“Instead, encourage your child to share what they learned that day or what they enjoyed the most,” she said.
“For older students, help them become more independent,” McDonald said. “Teach responsibility. Don’t harp on grades. Instead ask them are they satisfied with the work they did.”
McDonald said another key point is to help children focus on the future not the past.
“Be patient, understanding and encouraging,” she advised.
Communication is a good way to keep children encouraged. Children bask in positive attention. By encouraging them to tell you about their day, they know that you think what they do is important.
“Talk or read with your child everyday,” McDonald said. “Even high school students enjoy one on one contact.”
One of the hardest ways to help your child in school is through being supportive of teachers and principals.
“Be supportive of teachers and school activities,” she said. “Even if you do not agree at times, try to understand that there is a reason for every rule and every procedure.”
McDonald said make the effort to model positive behavior and attitude at home.
Another great tip is to do everything you can to make your child feel safe and comfortable about school, especially with young children. Even second graders sometimes feel unsure in a new environment with teachers and rooms they have not been in before.
“Children need reassurance that they will be safe,” McDonald said. “Be sure to be on time to pick them up.
“Help them understand the arrangements you have made for them in case you are not at home,” she added.