The summer holiday is the time to relax and enjoy long, hot days and cold, sweet beverages… not to mention sleeping late and no homework. It's not the time to talk about how we should prepare for school over the summer, right? Wrong. While the summer holidays should be a time for our children to relax and enjoy themselves and for families to bond and spend time together, there are other things to think about… like school. It is not too soon to start preparing for back to school - especially if your child is going to a new school. These back to school preparation tips will get you started in the right direction.
There are two types of parents when it comes to back to school preparation:
Whichever category you fall into, relax, I'm not judging, I got your back and will be giving you my best back to school preparation tips. Let's start with some of the things to consider if your child is starting a new school.
A new school can be pretty daunting - for children and parents alike. Each time my son starts a new school I'm a bit apprehensive. My brain reverts to two-year-old status and starts plaguing me with questions:
When he was at the elementary level we had some control over the situation as we were able to decide which school we wanted to send him to - which means we checked the school out beforehand. And even then we worried: how do we know we made the right choice ? It helps if we can focus on some specific things to soothe our anxiety and our children's.
Any change in environment can be scary for your child whether they are just starting preschool or they are off to university. The first few weeks or even months will be a period of adjustment for both of you. So what can we expect in this new phase?
1. Tears: Don't be surprised if you or your child, or both of you tear up on the first day of school. Accept your emotion and those of your child. Don't make them feel as though there's something wrong with them. If you're the tearful one, that's okay too - your little baby is growing up and that's a big deal.
My mother still tells the story of my first day at school. Apparently, I blissfully went off into the sunset while she was left behind wiping tears. On the other hand, my son was the first child out of class on the first day bawling his way across the schoolyard while the other children sat docilely in class. If you have more than one child, understand that they may not behave in the same manner. Be prepared to accept each child as an individual with their own complex set of emotions.
2. Anger: Your child may display feelings of anger especially if this move was not something they particularly wanted. Nobody likes to be the “new kid” and so your child may react in anger at the situation.
Don't take it personally. Remember your reasons for moving her out of old school. You may have to remind your child - and yourself - many times in the weeks to. Allow your child to express their anger (as long as they are not hurting themselves or being destructive). Once the child calms down, explain your reasons for moving them out of their old school.
You may have to do this a few times before your child settles into a routine and starts to enjoy the environment.
3. Fluctuating grades: No two schools are the same and your child's schoolwork will reflect this. Your job is to take note of the change in grades and analyze it. Did the grades improve or get worse? Is the work at the new school harder or easier? Does your child need additional help in order to improve their results? Is the grading system fair? Are the papers being scored correctly?
4. New culture: The new school will come with a change in culture. Before you reject it, take some time to understand it. It may help you to know the school's motto and vision statements. As part of your back to school preparation, take some time to find out more about your child's new school. It's your school too and you will be expected to be present and active as long as your child is in attendance.
All of this will help you figure out the culture of your new environment. Once you understand it, decide: is this the right place for your child? How do you and your children adapt to this new environment? What can you do to measure the gaps you've identified at your child's new school? The summer holidays are a good time to start doing some of these back to school preparations.
Now that we have an idea of what to expect at your child's new school, here are my five tips for getting through the "New School Blues".
1. Write down one good thing about your new school: Relax. You did your research. You checked it from all available angles. You may even have googled your new school and have a full dossier and history of the institution ... Keep a list to remind you of the things you liked about the school and how your child will benefit from attending that school.
2. Be an active part of your school community: I'm not telling you that you have to be a part of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) or need to volunteer for every event - if you feel led to do so and your calendar can accommodate it go right ahead. What I am saying is: support your children's teachers in the job they're doing to educate your child.
Get to know your child's teacher. Visit the school. My mother used to make unannounced visits when I was a child (I know this because she told me). Those visits allowed her to observe me in my natural habitat and made her aware on two levels: she saw how I behaved when I wasn't on guard and she was able to see how school administrators and teachers interacted with students when no parent was expected. . . . . If this is something your schedule allows, go right ahead and do so. If not, be sure to at least attend the PTA meetings. If your child's teacher sends home a letter, read it, then take the necessary actions. Your little bundle of energy is your gift from God and you have a responsibility to him / her
3. Talk to your child about the new school: One of the best ways to know how your child is fitting into his new environment is to hear stories about what happened that day. Make it into a game - ask your little reporter to tell you the news of the day. This will give you a bird's eye view of what's going on at school.
Remember, no matter how often you visit, your child is the one who spends hours there day after day - they have a pretty good idea of what's happening at school.
4. Listen to what your child has to say: This ties into the point above but it's so important I wanted to highlight it. As adults (and parents) we get so good at multitasking we often carry on whole conversations without our brain being engaged. We make the right listening sounds but a lot of the times our minds are miles away.
So let me just say this: when you ask your child about their day at school, listen to what they have to say.
Try not to interrupt or get them to gloss over the tale of who ate what off the floor. Cringe and correct later. For right now, your main aim is to get the details on what's happening at school.
5. Pray for your children: As parents, this is one of our main responsibilities. We need to pray for our children and ensure that they are covered under the blood of Jesus. Not sure what to pray? Here are 5 prayers we should be praying for our children . Before your child leaves the house each day, suit him up in his armor.
6. Pray for your child's teacher: Just like you, your child's teacher has needs, fears, wants, and things they struggle with. You can support them in prayer. Ask your child's teacher if there is a specific way you can pray for her during the scholastic year. Pray for her according to what you observe on your school visits (or what you know about your child). If you are not quite sure how to pray for your child's teacher, my friend Annmarie has a list of twelve ways you can pray for your child's teacher .
7. Encourage your child to be active in after school activities: Being social is a big part of who we are, encouraging your children to participate in clubs as long as they are supported by your beliefs. Being involved in extracurricular activities also helps your child develop in ways they would not in the classroom. They also have a better opportunity to form bonds and friendships with fellow students - some of which will be in other grades - so they can learn to deal with various kinds of people.
Need help remembering these tips? Download our checklist plus 5 Bible verses to combat the "new school blues".
1. Find out if your child is afraid to go to school. If they express anxiety, try to identify the root cause so you can address it. Maybe they're afraid of being in a new class or new environment. Maybe they're afraid they won't make any friends.
2. Remind your child of the importance of being respectful in class. Let them know they represent you and your family and the values you try to impart to them. Even more important, they represent Christ and what they do and say at school send people a message. We don't want to misrepresent Jesus or our family.
3. Encourage them to prepare for school the night before. If they're not sure how to do this, you may want to help them by doing a couple of test runs over the summer as part of your back to school preparation process. You can take this a step further by showing them how to prepare for class. Sometimes preparation can reduce our anxiety about a situation.
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5: 7 ESV).
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is unable to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, "This man began to build and was unable to finish" (Luke 14: 28-30 ESV).
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed (Proverbs 15:22 ESV).
Don't be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4: 6-7 ESV).
I hope these back to school preparation tips will jumpstart your process as you get ready to support your child in the upcoming academic year.