From a father and educator’s perspective, Leonard Stanley is here to give you some advice – whether it’s questions about school, your teenager, family life, expat life or if you just need a dad’s point of view. In Advice from Dad, he answers your tough questions and gets a parent’s perspective.
As the summer vacation winds down and the day-to-day grind of work returns for moms and dads, the same is true for our beloved little ones. Speaking from personal experience, I find it one of the most challenging times of the year: hitting snoozes over and over again on my alarm clock, as I pry myself from the warmth of my bed. Getting ready to give up the independence of summer for the rigid routine of another academic year is not easy. And I love my job. So, imagine how our kids must feel when they are usually less enthusiastic about the coming school year and the challenges that await them. Naturally, the question arises, “How do I prepare my child for another school year?”
Let’s be honest, there is no easy way to entice children to give up the freedom of summer for the rigor of another school year. Despite this, I have found the best way to get my kids back into school mode is to prep them at least a week in advance. This means a week before the first day of school we revert to the schoolsleeping schedule. Like with our family, I am sure the bedtime you set for your kids during the year was most likely suspended during the summer vacation.
Well it is time to bring it back! A lethargic learner is probably the number one issue teachers face during the first week of school. If you can make sure your child is back on their sleep schedule a week in advance, it will go a long way to help them be mentally engaged on day one. When preparing to send your child back to school, remember that nothing is more jolting than suddenly being thrust back into a rigorous schedule with seemingly no preparation. Your child and their teachers will appreciate anything that eases this transition.
Another great strategy is what I call the ‘Countdown Calendar.’ Visual aids are great for children. This means showing them a calendar and talking to them about the approaching school year. Two weeks before classes start I begin the calendar with my boys. We countdown the last of the 'do-as-you-please, stay-up as-late-as-you-want' days before we gradually convert into the 'your-time-nolonger-belongs-to-you' schedule. How closely you want to stick to this depends on you, but the point is, the kids are mentally preparing themselves for a schedule shift.
The next thing that works in my house is probably one of the most difficult rules to implement in 2018. I call it the ‘Tech Timeout.’ We slowly limit electronics and television time while replacing them with more academic activities. This is one strategy I often use over the summer to make sure there is an appropriate balance of work and play. I give both of my kids a summer reading list. They always tell me how grateful they are that I am a teacher and have all these creative ideas. I haven’t quite figured out if that is sarcasm yet, but I’ll take it as a compliment. Before my children can dive into their phones or computers or whatever gadget they fancy, they must first complete their daily task. Maybe it is reading 'X' number of pages in a book or completing a worksheet I have either prepared or found online that introduces them to concepts they will face in the coming school year. Only then are they allowed to pick up a phone and relax. My kids then feel as though they have earned it and I tell them they can play with a clean conscious, knowing they have handled their business for the day. As we get closer to the school year, the tasks become more challenging and time-consuming; this gradually prepares them to spend hours a day inside the classroom learning.
So, getting kids ready to go back to school isn’t easy, but if you follow these steps, I have found it makes life a little smoother. Good luck!
[Cover image via Pexels]
Leonard Stanley was born and raised in Washington D.C., and has lived in Shanghai since 2009 with his wife and two young children Kyle (12) and Christopher (8). Leonard teaches Theory of Knowledge as well as Language & Literature at the Western International School of Shanghai.
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