By Tracey Matthews, Knox County Schools Supervisor of Family and Community Engagement
Contributing Writer: Candice Campbell, Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement, University of Tennessee student intern
It’s that time again: Back to school! Students often have a difficult time getting back into their daily school routines. This is the perfect time to create back-to-school habits and strengthen routines to make your household less stressed. From creating a “Bus Stop” station for school belongings to organizing “homework play dates” to make homework more fun, here are some back-to-school tips to make your school year a success!
- Set and practice your child’s school bedtime routine.
- Plan a few family activities that require everyone to get up at the regular school time to help your child get in the habit of getting up early again.
- Prepare lunch and perhaps set out breakfast the night before.
- Limit caffeine and sugary snacks when it’s close to bedtime.
- Reduce excessive use of technology (television, non-educational computer games, cell phone, etc.) in the evenings, and replace these activities with reading time, computer research or educational games.
- Read (or listen) to your child as a bedtime ritual for at least 20 minutes each night.
- Create a “Back-to-School Chore Chart,” so your child will know what habits he or she needs to continue now that school responsibilities are once again in the mix! See the examples below:
- Put on school clothes
- Brush hair
- Make the bed
- Eat breakfast
- Brush teeth
- Place school items (homework, projects, etc.) in the backpack
- Pack lunch and snack
- Place items in the “Mom and Dad” mailbox
- Change clothes
- Place laundry in hamper
- Eat snack
- Enjoy playtime break
- Clean room
- Set table
- Complete homework
- Eat dinner
- Clear table
- Shower, brush teeth, and floss
- Set out clothes for next day
- Prep book bag for next day and place at the door
- Read for 20 minutes
Back-to-School “Homework Play Dates”
- Organize study and homework “play dates”or “study dates” with your child’s friends.
- Confirm who will be supervising.
- Create a schedule of start and finish times.
- Exchange contact information with the parents.
- Try to select friends within walking distance or close driving distance.
- Review the homework assignments, so you can better supervise completion.
- Create games with flashcards for the children to use.
- Provide tasty but healthy snacks.
- Keep the homework date limited to only a few children, but rotate locations so all parents will have their “turns.”
- Leave time for the homework date to turn into a “play date” after all homework is completed.
- Consider inviting parents, too!
- Share your child’s learning style with the supervising adults. Visit mychildsfuture.org/parents/item.htm?id=29&edlvl=1to learn more about learning styles.
- Describe your child’s study style and techniques. For example, does your child prefer studying with a lamp or a bright light? What about a soft chair or perhaps the floor? Research shows both good and bad effects of listening to music while studying, but don’t wait until the night before a test to see if this method works for your child. Visit emedexpert.com/tips/music.shtml to learn more about music and learning.
Back-to-School Organizational Tips
- Create a wall calendar and corkboard area to place important homework assignment, class schedules, appointments, school dates to remember, etc.
- Create a “Mom and Dad” mailbox in which your child can place papers each day.
- Create color-coded folders for class lists, medical information, school directories, field-trip information, etc., for each child.
- For less clutter, create boxes for storage of books, crayons, paper, etc.
- Create index cards for dinner ideas to keep your weekly meal planner manageable. Be sure to include “Make-Your-Own-Sandwich” Night!
- Confirm your emergency backup contact person and be ready to share this information with the school.
- Create a daily checklist for you and your child to make sure you have what you need before leaving home (soccer supplies, tennis shoes for P.E., etc.).
- Create a “Bus Stop” station for backpacks, umbrellas, jackets, rain boots, etc.
- Create a “Lunch Station” for both refrigerated and dry snacks for easy access before and after school.
- Create a “Homework Station” that aligns with your child’s learning style.
- Decorate and fill a basket, bin or even an old briefcase with school supplies, so the “Homework Station” will be well organized.
For more information, please visit the Family and Community Engagement at knoxschools.org.