It’s August and the Back-to- School commercials have begun! The discussion about September is underway and you start to wonder how to prepare your child for the new school year. As a teacher and founder of the tutoring company Teachers to Go, I know that the summer can be a hectic time for parents, regardless if you are a working or stay-at-home parent.
5 tips to help make the transition back to school easier for them and you:
1. Keep your child on a routine for most of the summer
Most importantly, try your best to keep your child on a routine for most of the summer – camps, sleep schedule, and even their play/recreational time. Keeping a schedule similar to the school year will make for easier mornings and help their minds and bodies focus in the classroom once September rolls around.
2. Keep your child engaged and learning through the summer months
It’s also important to keep your child engaged and learning through the summer months. Without any learning for those 8 weeks, your child can lose a lot of what they had worked so hard to learn over the past school year. It’s called summer learning loss, and besides the lost knowledge, it can really hinder your child’s confidence going into the new school year.
If your family budget allows, getting your child a tutor even just once a week can keep them in a routine. It will allow them time to retain the concepts from last year fresh in their mind and/or be introduced to new concepts they will be seeing in the new school year.
3. Stay sharp at home
If a tutor isn’t possible with your family budget and/or schedule, not to worry, here are some ways you can ensure they stay sharp at home:
a) If reading together isn’t already in your regular schedule as a family, it’s definitely something to consider moving forward. Encourage your child to read a book together aloud each night and ask them questions before, during and after reading to keep them engaged.
Or, for older children, propose that you both read the same book independently then discuss it together. It’s a great idea for the family to get library cards and arrange to go together every couple of weeks. Graphic novels are a great option for students who don’t like reading and/or struggle to find interesting chapter books.
Some extensions to spice things up would be to create a book club with other parents and children or have your child complete a creative book report. For the book report for younger children, they could utilize their strengths by creating a t-shirt/sports trading card/sculpture of a character from the story or by making the book into a comic strip.
For older children, they could do so through a travel brochure showcasing the setting of the book. Or they could instead choose five (5) artifacts from the book that illustrate the meaning and happenings of the story with reasons why they chose each one. Whichever way you choose to bring literacy into your home, try to make it fun and tailor it to your child’s interests!
b) As scary as the subject of Math can be, bringing it into your home is also important. Research has shown that when parents show anxieties or fear around math, their children also develop those fears of the subject from an early age. Math is everywhere and can be easily, and painlessly, integrated into your family routine.
Some ideas include: having your child play online math games (there are a lot of free math game websites searchable through Google), solving an interactive puzzle, or having your older child budget the weekly grocery expenses. Keep in mind that math is so much more than solving questions from a textbook. It’s about problem-solving and embracing that confusion and making mistakes is all a part of the learning process. Get inspired and show your child that Math can be fun!
4. Plan activities with classmates
Aside from learning, however, a big part of school is socializing and developing relationships with peers. Over the summer, it’d be great to have your child plan activities with classmates. Some suggestions to combine learning, socializing and entertainment would be to have a Science experiment in the backyard, organize a scavenger hunt or even an art gallery walk with the paintings they make together.
5. Start the transition into getting ready for school today
Especially if your child has anxiety or negative feelings about school, it’s important to start the preparations or discussions about the new school year. It may be a month away, but the more preparations and effort you put in this month, the easier next month will be for everyone.
Julie Diamond is a BC and Ontario certified teacher. She created a tutoring company Teachers to Go in 2011 that matches students with provincially certified teachers.