Ten Ways to Start the School Year Right
For the past few weeks, and the upcoming few weeks, children all over the country will be heading back to school. For some children, this is an exciting time, they will once again be with their friends, they will be involved in school activities and they will not spend their days wondering what to do. For other children, this is a time of great apprehension. They may not do well in school and may be dreading starting another year; they may not make friends easily and are scared of spending their school days feeling alone and isolated. Whatever situation you may be in, there are some ways you can help your child to start the year off on a positive note.
1) Talk to your child about the upcoming school year. Are they scared or apprehensive? If you are anxious or worried about how this year is going to turn out, try not to let your children know how you feel. Let them know that you are confident that they will do fine. Let your child discuss their fears about the upcoming year, what they feel they will have problems with and what you might be able to do to help them. Discuss some goals for the first few weeks of school, and have them write down their goals as well as what they plan to do to reach the goals and what assistance you can provide. If you feel their goals are unreasonable, talk to them about modifying the goals to something more achievable but let them know you believe in them. Helping them feel success in the beginning of school can set the tone for the rest of the year.
2) Take the time to meet your children's teachers. Call the teacher to set up a meeting at their convenience. At the meeting discuss some of the concerns you have for the upcoming year, the strategies that have worked in the past and set up a system of communication between you and the teacher. Let them know how important communication is to the success of your child.
3) Create a homework and study area at home. Whether your child completes their homework in their own room or at the kitchen table, you can make sure they have ample supplies and a quiet area to complete their work. Get into the habit of checking to make sure the area is free of clutter (will cause distractions) and make a supply box filled with paper, pencils, paper, stapler, glue and any other needed supplies. This will stop them from getting up several times during homework time to find supplies they may need.
4) Set up a daily schedule. Start with the time they should wake up, how long they have to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth. Set aside a specific time in the afternoon that homework and studying should be completed and leave some "free time" where they are able to play outdoors in good weather or use to relax and unwind after school or after homework is completed. The more consistent your family becomes, the better off your child will be. Children with ADHD find more success with well-defined routines.
5) Build in reading time. This can be for ½ hour before bedtime (this helps to calm a child down before going to sleep as well) or ½ after dinner. For younger children, take the time to read with them, as they get older, have them read to you for part of the time and you read for part of the time. Use this time to read yourself, children who see adults reading will have more of an interest in reading.
6) Get involved in your child's school. Consider joining the PTA or find out if your school has a need for volunteers. This can be for office work, teacher assistance, library or cafeteria aides.
7) Show interest in your child's education. Talk with your child each day about what happened in school. Discuss what they enjoyed in school and what they disliked. Talk to them about what they learned in different subjects. The more interest you show, the more your children will take an interest in their education.
8) Establish rules for completing schoolwork. What will happen if your child fails to complete their homework or does not study for an upcoming test? Decide in advance what your reaction will be and let your children know exactly what they should expect. Write down your rules so that you will be consistent throughout the school year.
9) Find out about extracurricular activities and clubs your school offers. Try to find some activities that your child will be interested in. If necessary, discuss with the adult moderator or coach your child's ADHD and what extra assistance they may require.
10) Post the school calendar on the refrigerator or somewhere easily accessible. Highlight school functions, back to school night, parent teacher conferences, art shows, PTA meetings and any other functions on the calendar. Make a point of trying to attend as many school functions as possible to let your child know that their education is important to you.