Back To School Tips

Another Summer has come and gone and your kids are starting school again (or are about to). The beginning of the school year is a fresh start and a great opportunity to establish good habits. In talking with parents about the stress associated with the beginning of the school year, I have accumulated some tips that I think might make your lives easier.

1. Set Goals

Have a conversation with your son or daughter about their goals for the upcoming year. They are more likely to strive to achieve a goal if they helped create it than if you or their teachers create the goal. Have them pick just one or two goals, and make sure they are realistic and doable. Children (and adults actually!) who set and achieve goals feel more capable and accomplished, both of which are important for healthy self-esteem. With any goal, it is important to define it clearly so that you know when you’ve reached it. Praise every step in the right direction and their eventual success. Children of all ages love to have their efforts and achievements appreciated by their parents!

2.) Establish Good Habits

Regardless of how last year went, let this one be a fresh start. Establish your expectations and routine with your child so that you child’s schedule is predictable. Does your child know when he or she has time for homework? Does he or she have extracurricular activities or other appointments during the week?  Depending on your child’s age, you will need to make sure they have anywhere from a half hour to two hours of uninterrupted time for homework. If possible, be available to your child during this time in case he or she has questions. Having trouble getting your child to do homework? Make sure their night is structured in such a way that they work first and play later. It can be rewarding to get homework done if it means your child then gets to do something more fun, like watch television or play a game.

3.) Balance

Academics, extracurricular activities, social events and family time are all important. Children should have a well rounded schedule but not have every hour of their weeks booked. Watch out for signs that your child may be overwhelmed or overbooked and reprioritize her or her schedule as needed. Remember, kids need unstructured, unplanned time to relax and unwind just like adults.

4.) Be a Good Role Model

As a parent, you are always the most significant and influential role model in your child’s life. The best way to teach your child is through your own actions (not lectures!). Whether you are trying to teach your child the benefits of healthy diet, exercise, stress management, or sleep hygiene, being a good model is your best bet at success.

5.) Ask for Help

Asking for help is a valuable life skill. We all require help with various aspects of our lives and we want children to know that needing and asking for help are encouraged. Whether your child is struggling with a particular subject and needs a tutor, or is upset with a friend and needs to be able to talk about a problem, it is important that they feel supported and helped. Let your child know that you are always available to help, and if you aren’t the best person to help, you can help then find someone who is.

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