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Off to a great start

by jmaloni
Sat, Aug 7th 2010 09:45 am

Starting the school year off on the right foot is important for any student. According to Nitasha Seth of the Kenmore Huntington Learning Center, doing so can mean the difference between an unexcited child and one who is confident and optimistic. "Change isn't always easy for children, so it's extremely helpful when parents take steps to mentally prepare their children for transitions, such as heading back to school," says Seth. How can you set the foundation for a successful school year? Seth offers these tips:

  • Make a school visit together. Ease your child's nerves before the first day by visiting school one or more times to locate his or her classroom, bathrooms, the lunch room or any other area of the school your child might be unfamiliar with. New to middle or high school? Practice opening that locker a few times. Your child's teacher(s) may also be at school the week or two before the first day, so be sure to drop by and introduce yourselves.
  • Practice the school-day routine. At least one week before the first day of school, move up bedtime to a more typical school-year hour. Have your child set his or her alarm clock and practice the morning routine, too: breakfast, getting dressed and ready, gathering backpacks and supplies, and even walking to school or the bus stop.
  • Start using the calendar. If you don't have one already, purchase a family calendar and note all-important dates: the first day of school, back-to-school night, parent-teacher conferences and the like. Continue to write your child's extracurricular obligations on the calendar, and encourage him or her to do the same with test dates and homework and project deadlines. Let your child pick out a simple notebook or planner at the grocery or bookstore, too, in which he or she can keep track of assigned and to-be-completed homework.
  • Clear off the desk. If your child's desk has gotten a little dusty this summer, now is the time to get it ready for school again. Make sure your child's study space is in a quiet area of the home - his or her room or another place where he or she can concentrate - and that it has proper lighting and the right supplies nearby.
  • Develop an organizational system at home. Create a space in your home where your child can empty and hang his or her backpack, setting aside important papers or information from school for you to review in one pile or folder and to-be-completed homework in another. Even if he or she takes an after-school break before diving into the studies, employing a simple system will keep your entryway neat, help minimize chaos at homework time (and in the morning) and foster responsibility in your child.
  • Be positive. Your child may be nervous about heading back to school, so be sure to model optimism and excitement about the new year. Your child will pick up on your good attitude. Also, let him or her know you're always available to talk about problems.

While preparation can help your child successfully transition from summer to a new school year, for some children, severe resistance may be a sign of something more than just gloominess about the end of summer. "Children who struggled in one or more subjects in the previous year may especially fear going back to school because they do not want to experience that frustration again," says Seth. "A customized learning program might be what such a child needs to improve his or her school performance and raise his or her self-esteem. If you are concerned about your child, contact us to discuss how we can help."

For more information, contact Seth at 873-4565.

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