As the summer season winds down, many parents find it difficult to help their children transition back into the school spirit. Understandably, it’s often hard for a kid to abruptly go from carefree summer afternoons to structured classroom environments.
Yet, success in school can set your child up for lifelong success. It’s where we all learn how to socialize, study, and grow. Here are three ways to help your child get back into the swing of things, and be prepared to find success in, and out of, the classroom.
1. Enforce a Strict Sleep Routine
One of the hardest adjustments for a child to make is to get back into a sleep routine. Sleep, however, is crucial to helping children develop and get into the mindset of learning. Research has found that inadequate sleep can lead to poor memory, focus, and creativity in children.
School-age children need 9-11 hours of sleep every night, and teens require 8-10. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to ensure your child gets the appropriate amount of sleep that their bodies and minds need to develop.
– Sleep schedule: Make sure to maintain a strict sleep/wake schedule for your children, even on the weekends. If a child goes to sleep at a specific time every night, their brain will begin to recognize it as bedtime, and respond by releasing melatonin, the sleep hormone. If your child misses even an hour or two one night, it can cause severe disruptions to their natural sleep schedule for the rest of the week.
– Bedroom environment: A lot of sleep disruption can be caused by hidden factors in the bedroom; temperature, noise, and comfort all play a large role in sleep quality. Make sure your child’s bedroom is a sanctuary. Keep it dark, cool, and quiet, but still give them comfort items, as many children struggle being separated from their parents at bedtime. Having some stuffed animals, soft pillows, and a cozy mattress can go a long way in providing security to a child at night.
– Keep away electronics: While many children use devices at night in bed, they can actually disturb their sleep. The blue LED light interrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm and can keep users up late into the night. Try to separate your child from all blue artificial light at least an hour before bed.
2. Set Up a Homework Station
Much like bedtime, children respond well to routine when it comes to work. Assigning a time and space for your child to focus on nothing but their schoolwork can improve their focus and productivity.
– Designate a space: Make sure your child feels like they have a space that’s all theirs. Set up a desk and comfortable chair that’s situated in a quiet spot to avoid distractions. Try to keep the desk facing away from the window, and definitely outside of the heavily-trafficked rooms in your house. This should improve your child’s concentration and productivity. Check out these design suggestions to outfit the space with creative inspiration.
– Use a timer: Children respond well to routine and deadlines, so it’s important to set a specific time frame for how long they will work in the space. Not only will a time limit encourage them to focus in order finish their work, but it will also prevent the work from seeming like an overwhelming task. The time frame should depend on your child’s workload and can be broken down into different segments for mental breaks.
– Stick around: Make sure the homework station schedule is during a time when you will be around so your kids can ask for help if needed. It’s important that they feel that they can depend on you for support in case they struggle. If they ask for help, make sure to give your full attention and make it clear that you are interested in helping them succeed.
3. Pursue Extra-Curriculars
Help your children find passion in learning by connecting them to new interests. Not only do extra-curriculars teach kids time management, but they also help reveal interests to keep your child engaged in the classroom. Whatever activity your child prefers, it will likely benefit their development, and help them get excited about learning.
– Sports: High-intensity sports can teach children to persevere in the face of adversity, while team sports can teach social skills and show the importance of collaboration. Look for recreational teams or games sponsored by your town to help your child learn the rules of a sport, then fine-tune their skills. While you may not have an interest in their sport, it’s important to show your support and encourage their passion by attending games or races.
– Music: Music lessons have been found to improve language and reasoning skills, as well as coordination. Most music classes are offered through schools, but there are also private lessons if your child really finds a passion for a specific instrument. Encourage your child to research the history of their instrument and enforce practice rules to make sure they stick to their commitment.
– Art: Art can obviously boost a student’s creativity, but drawing, sculpting and painting have also been found to improve their problem-solving skills, and sense of independence. Art classes have been cut in many schools due to budget restrictions, but a child can find a passion for art anywhere. Make sure to provide art supplies and activities as a creative outlet to your child, and encourage them to illustrate their thoughts and feelings.
As back-to-school season comes to a close, and students get back into the swing of things, it’s important to keep learning at the forefront of your children minds and interests. As a parent, it’s crucial to find new ways to get your children ready for school and excited about learning to encourage their development.