1. Be excited. Your child looks up to you for many things and how much you care about their education directly impacts their motivation. Help your child get mentally ready for these first few weeks of school by having a positive attitude yourself.
2. Get back into a solid routine. Enforce bedtime, plan healthy meals for your family throughout the week, plan a space and time for homework, and schedule in some play time too! Children crave structure, especially those that struggle with attention issues. Even if your child initially balks at having a schedule, a consistently enforced routine will help him be more successful in the long run.
3. Help you child get and stay organized. The first few weeks of school can be overwhelming for children with meeting new friends and school staff and getting lots of handouts and rules thrown their way. Each day after school help your child unpack their backpack while you talk about their day and help them get it ready for the following day either the same night or the following morning, whichever works better for your schedule. When your child has the belongings they need (i.e., the appropriate utensils, worksheets with a parent signature that come due, a healthy snack, etc.) they will feel more prepared to face even the unexpected.
4. If your child is new to the school situation, being away from you and home for a whole day can be especially challenging. Plant little notes in their backpack, folder, or lunch tote that remind him how much you love and care about him these first few weeks. Make sure to end it with a reminder about how you will see him at the end of the day. This is a sweet gesture for your spouse as well!
5. Create a wall or space in your home to display school accomplishments. This can simply be a bulletin board or a whole wall if you are so inclined! Having a designated space for your child to show off the important things he does in school can help him have pride in his projects and reinforces the value you place on his education. For some kids this is so motivating at the start of the school year they look forward to the first project or test they can display!
** It is not too late to do any of these things or to implement any other ideas that you think would be helpful to transition your child back into school!!
Jessica Martin, Ed. S., NCSP
RVA School Psychologist/Director of Special Education & Student Services