Fifteen Tips to Start the School Year Strong!

As our minds shift gears from days by the pool to school supplies and homework, the transition from summer to school year can be hectic for both parents and kids. While the new school year can be a time of great excitement, it can also be a source of anxiety for many families. Here are 15 tips to help set children up for success this school year!

  1. Visit the School: Walk or ride the route your child will take and make note of crossing guards and high traffic areas along the way. Learn about the school’s entrance and exit policies. If you can, pop in and check out what the inside of the school looks like.
  2. Meet the Teachers: Introduce yourself to your child’s teachers and ask them about their preferred method of communication. Some teachers are active on email and social media, while others prefer the phone or in-person meetings.
  3. Establish Connections: Help ease the anxiety of the new school year by setting up play dates with your children’s classmates. Many schools will share class rosters to help families get to know one another. Also, find out if your school hosts any open houses or “meet and greet” events at the end of the summer.
  4. Shop for School Supplies Together: Get each child’s class supply list and make a special shopping trip with your children. Having the right tools will help them feel prepared. Allow for a few splurges like a funky notebook or a favorite-colored pen. These simple pleasures can make going back to school a lot more fun.
  5. Set up a Weekly Family Meeting: Hold consistent family meetings to review everyone’s schedules and priorities for the week ahead. It’s also helpful to create a visual family calendar to track everyone’s activities and commitments.
  6. Prioritize Homework: Set aside a time every day for kids to do homework. Make it clear that education is a top priority in your family by showing interest and praising your child’s work. For older kids, schedule study blocks on the weekends before big tests, midterms, and finals. If you notice that your child is struggling, make an appointment with the teacher sooner rather than later.
  7. Create a Distraction-Free Homework Zone: Set up a special place at home where children can do their homework. Remove distractions like televisions and video game consoles.
  8. Take Charge of Screen Time: Limit the amount of time that children watch TV or play on their devices. When it comes to screen time, make it a family affair. Have a conversation about what you’ve watched and ask questions after the show ends. When you can’t watch with your child, make sure to spot check and see what they are watching.
  9. Get to Bed on Time: Proper rest is essential for a healthy and productive school year. Help kids get back on track by having them go to bed earlier and wake up earlier for at least a week before the first day of school. Once the school year starts, set a consistent and calming bedtime routine and stick with it every night.
  10. Make Healthy Meals: No one can concentrate when they’re hungry. Study after study has shown that children who eat healthy, balanced breakfasts and lunches perform better in school. Get kids involved in preparing nutritious meals at home. Organize lunch ingredients in one part of the fridge so you can make lunches quickly. If you need extra help, find out if your family qualifies for any child nutrition programs, like the National School Lunch Program.
  11. Get a Checkup: It’s a good idea for children to have a physical and an eye exam before school starts. While you’re there, be sure to discuss any mental health concerns with your child’s physician. Most schools require paperwork confirming that your child’s immunizations are up to date. Check your state’s immunization requirements and always keep your own copies of any medical records.
  12. Read Every Day: Reading allows parents and children to explore new worlds of fun and adventure together. Plan to read with your children for at least 20 minutes daily. Your example reinforces the importance of literacy.
  13. Build in Down Time: If you have multiple kids, the after-school activity schedule can be particularly challenging. Designating an activity-free day each week can relieve stress for both parents and kids and allow for some much-needed unstructured time.
  14. Get Organized the Night Before: Encourage your kids to lay out their school clothes the night before. Avoid forgetting things during the hectic morning rush by helping your children pack their backpacks and sports bags before bedtime.
  15. Encourage Extracurriculars: A child’s social life is as important as their academic development. From soccer to chess club to theater, extracurricular activities have a host of benefits, including improved academic performance, better time management skills, and an increased sense of commitment or purpose.