Back to school tips: Prepping parents, guardians, and students

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Back to school tips: Prepping parents, guardians, and students
Great Horned Owl Jennifer Wilson Pines

There is nothing like a Long Island summer! All of us at Long Island Teachers hope you enjoyed it to the fullest, enjoying time with family and friends at the beach, in the pool, and our beautiful staycation spots.

As we think of the school year ahead, we’ve compiled some advice gleaned over the years from the thousands of teachers on Long Island that we are lucky enough to call members.

Back to school fills children with excitement and a little of the first-day jitters. Our educators focus on supporting youth mental health in today’s world. We hope summer was a time for them to enjoy being a kid and want to offer some helpful tips focused on planning and organization, which can often help calm anxious minds as these carefree months come to an end.

  1. Re-establish school year routines. To help ease the stressful school mornings, restart a regular bedtime and morning time routine a week or two before school starts. Have them wake up and eat breakfast at the same time every day. Help your kids write a rough outline of their school and activity schedules and create a family calendar, or choose a calendar app that tracks everyone’s activities and commitments.
  2. Start shopping for school supplies together. Entering a new grade is exciting and a little scary. When shopping, allow them to pick out their lunchbox, backpack, and even some new clothes. Set a budget and share with them how much they can spend on these items so it doesn’t stress you out. This is an excellent way to teach them about money and give them a little responsibility too!
  3. Set up a homework station. Talk with your child about a designated time and space where they can do homework. Depending on your child’s ability to finish homework without help, consider a time and place where you are available in case your child needs assistance.
  4. Prepare for the unpredictable. As working parents can attest, finding a last-minute sitter when your child is sick can be challenging. Now is an excellent time to start lining up a sitter when the school calls to say your child is ill.
  5. Create your after-school game plan. If both parents work, where will your child go after school? Depending on your child’s age, will they attend an after-school program, stay at a neighbor’s, or be allowed to stay home alone? This helps eliminate confusion during the already crazy first weeks. If they will be at home alone, go over house rules, safety concerns, and what to do in an emergency.
  6. Turn off the video games and TV. It will feel like you are cutting their summer short; however, two weeks before school starts is a good time to start weaning the electronics. Shock sets in when they realize that six to eight hours of their day will be spent learning and not gaming or binge-watching favorite shows. Ease your child back into the learning process by limiting the electrics and encouraging them to read or play quietly. Using a timer is an excellent trick to ease into this for more extended periods!
  7. Go over school materials and information. Most schools provide a packet online or via email with a ton of information on your child’s teacher(s), important dates, emergency forms, and transportation arrangements. Jot down important dates on your calendar or put them in your phone. Talk openly with your kids about their feelings about returning to school and what they can expect on the first day, and be ready to answer any questions.
  8. Get organized. Back to school means LOTS of paperwork that can consume the counters in your home. Designate a spot in your home for permission slips, upcoming projects, and other school-related papers. This can help eliminate surprises that require last-minute midnight to Target, Walmart, or Dollar Store runs for supplies. A decluttered home also helps support a decluttered mind.
  9. Get your child’s yearly checkup. Germs and school are synonymous, so getting your child’s wellness checkup before school starts is optimal. It is also essential to get those annual physicals done early to comply with state requirements and for school sports registration.

Diving into the school year with a positive attitude and these tips will help you and your children kick off a new year with confidence. Teachers and coaches will thank you, too!

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