“Hurray!” or “boo”—what is your child’s response to going back to school?
If you stop and take a look, you’ll notice that for young children, the start of school is marked by an end to all the things that make summer fun: no more spending long days at the swimming pool, staying up late, or wearing whatever they want. Instead, they will have to say goodbye to friends and family, get ready for their brains to be put to work, and their days packed with a full schedule.
But why not switch this outlook and make going back to school a celebration? Play games to get their minds in gear, or hold a “School’s Starting” party the day before school begins.
A change in activities can bring a change in attitude. A change in attitude can bring a change in results. Start children off with enthusiasm for school and they’ll put more energy into their studies.
First, instead of marking a big black X on the calendar for the First Day of School, plan a party for the neighborhood kids to celebrate the coming of classes. Invite family members and have them reminisce about the funny things that happened in their school days. Bake a party cake and save a piece to take to the teacher. Incorporate a school-related theme, like report cards with all As on them as party favors or as the invitation cards. Give A’s for each game attempted at a backyard carnival. With activities like eating doughnuts hanging from strings, playing bean bag toss, or guessing the number of jelly beans in a jar, your children can get the necessary brain exercise to prep them for school.
Next, plan a family trip to watch a local football or soccer game and cheer for the school team. As the track season starts, take your children to the meets—it just might spark some interest in the sport for your kids.
When you are doing your preparatory shopping, don’t spend a lot of money on school supplies that are not needed. If possible, get a list from the school ahead of time and buy only the supplies that are on the list—no need to clutter the desk with things that are appealing but useless. Instead, spend the extra money on a special sweater or hat, or the perfect shirt, something that will make your child feel great to wear to school. Or, if he or she isn’t interested in clothes, buy a special book. Also remember to check with your local library or bookstore to see if they have any back-to-school events.
Other suggestions take some discipline. To adjust their biological clocks back to a school schedule, gradually shift to an earlier bedtime as the first day of school nears. Adjusting their bedtimes takes a lot of effort, but it is actually very crucial. While planning for the gradual change, you can also demonstrate to your child the benefits of good time management.
In addition, playing word and number games can be a fun challenge for your children, especially as they turn from trying to learn the game, to trying to score. To get ideas for games, there are word puzzle books, as well as traditional family games like “I Spy” and “Guess What I Am.” Suggestions are also available on the public radio program, A Way with Words.
If you put in the effort to reestablish a sensible bedtime and teach them educational games, your children will see that hard work isn’t something to be avoided, it’s something that benefits the whole family.