Back to school: Ready, set … GO

boy with book in school courtyardFor those of you in the US, school is about to start again.

If you are in the UK, there’s a bit of time before school starts, but it’s still coming up soon. This post is for you all. For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, you’re in the middle of the school year and you can put this aside until January!

There is a lot of concern about a summer break from school because students can lose so much of what they learned last year over this long time away from the classroom. Research indicates that children can lose as much as a third of last year’s knowledge when they have a long school break.

The other problem for boys is that the idea of school becomes a huge mountain of unpleasantness looming on the horizon. By the time school starts again, they are so negative that it takes a while before they are able to think positively about what they are doing in class.

So what can you do to help your son be ready for school?

  • When you go shopping for school supplies, make it a math lesson. How many pencils are in one package? How many do you need? So, how many packages shall we buy? Older children can figure out how much each pencil costs and do a bit of an analysis to determine what will be the best buy on pencils. Tell your son that you have a certain amount of money set aside for his school supplies and if he can figure out how to get them for less than you have budgeted, he can have the rest of the money.
  • Did you go anywhere over the vacation? Help your son write down either a list of everything that you saw, or a description of what you saw (depending on his writing ability). Young children can draw pictures of the sites and label them. Your son can do a bit of research on the computer to find out more about the history of the place you visited.
  • Get your son involved in looking at his clothes for this coming year. He should take everything out of his closet or wardrobe, put it on, see if it still fits and doesn’t need mending, and then hang up what he can still use. He should do the same with everything that is in drawers or boxes. What he can no longer use should be handed down to younger siblings or relatives, or given to someone who can use the clothing. This will help your son develop some organization skills and awareness of the needs of others.
  • If your son has not been reading much over the break, make sure that he finds something to read. You might contact his school and find out if his new teacher has any suggestions for reading material. Your son needs to get used to sitting still for a while and being involved in an activity that requires sustained attention. For that reason, you do need to limit the amount of time that he spends on the TV or computer.
  • About a week before school starts, your son should start moving to the sleep/wake cycle that his schedule will require. It takes a bit of time for children to get used to getting up on time for school and you will have less trouble on the first day if he has been getting up at that time for the past week. Remember that brightly lit screens that can be seen in the dark – TVs, computers, and some smartphones – suppress the production of melatonin. This is a substance which promotes sleep so the child who is glued to the TV set will say he is not sleepy even though it is an hour past his bed-time. Turn off the bright screens about a half an hour before you want your child asleep and have him do something quietly in his room. Reading is always a good choice.
  • Most importantly, make sure your child knows that you think that his education is vital to his future success. Children who know that their parents value education are more likely to focus on the positive aspects.

What are you doing to prepare your boy for school? Anyone have any rituals that help ease the beginning of school? Tell me in the comments!