The last year and a half has been a rollercoaster for students across Canada. Closures, virtual classes, and lockdowns all made for a school year unlike any other. Now, as the summer winds down, kids from coast to coast prepare for in-person learning: some for the very first time, others for the first time in a long time.
As a parent, guardian, or caregiver, helping your kids enjoy school will lead to a lifetime of healthy attitudes about learning. The best way to set them up for success is to start preparing them for the first week of school. These tips will help ensure your child kicks off the school year on a great note, equipped with the tools and confidence they need to succeed all year long.
For many students, the 2021-22 school year will likely still be different in many ways. Children are remarkably resilient at managing stress with effective communication and information, so be open and honest about what they can expect. Discussing the possibility of online learning, wearing masks and social distancing protocols will help prepare them for the “new normal” in their classroom.
Check with your local school board for public health guidelines and learn what COVID protocols will be in place throughout the school.
At the best of times, a new school year can be an anxiety-inducing change. That change can feel even scarier after months of uncertainty. Provide a safe space for your children to share how they feel about starting school.
If your child has trouble opening up, coach them along with questions:
- “What are you most excited about?”
- “Do you have any questions about school?”
- “Do you feel prepared?
- Are there things you’d like to do or practice before school starts?”
By actively engaging your child in a discussion about their feelings, you may discover an area you missed in your school preparation process (perhaps they would like more practice adjusting the fit of their face mask). You may also learn that your child is far more ready than you gave them credit for.
After months of remote learning and a summer hiatus, many children may struggle with getting back into the school routine. Kids do best when they know what to expect. Review what a typical day will look like before, during, and after school. From breakfast to bus pickup, homework time and screen time, going through their daily routine will help ease their transition from a fun summer to the new school year. Some kids may benefit from a visual schedule or checklist, letting them know each step.
If your child is starting at a new school, get the family involved in role-playing parts of the day. Role-play is a great way to familiarize them with school-day routines such as boarding the bus, ordering food at the cafeteria, or using a locker for the first time.
While most schools offer tours for first-time students, it’s a great idea to walk around the school grounds in the week leading up to school, even if this isn’t your child’s first year. Have them guide you on the tour of the premises, pointing out their favourite spots in the schoolyard or their old classroom windows! A school visit can help children get in the September mind frame and get them excited about the return.
We all know that a good sleep sets us up for a better day. The same applies to kids. Think ahead and try to set up a sleep routine that your family can stick with.
After a summer full of late nights and lazy mornings, it’s a good idea to allow some time to ease your child into the new school schedule. Begin slowly, a week or two before the start of school, shift bedtime up by 15 minutes every night and wake them up 15 minutes earlier each morning.
We can’t forget the paper and pencils. Shopping for back-to-school supplies is a joy for most kids; involve them in the process. New pens, binders, crisp notebooks, and a fresh set of sharpened pencil crayons build excitement for the school year and inspire creativity and pride.
Start stocking up early if you want to avoid the back-to-school rush. Early shopping will also give you extra time to find the best deals; it doesn’t have to be expensive if you plan and prioritize.
If you happen to spot some jaw-dropping deals along the way, consider picking up extra supplies to be used communally in the classroom. Most teachers welcome supply donations, ensuring that all students in your child’s classroom have access to the tools they need to succeed.
You Play a Big Role
Finally, as a parent, guardian, or caregiver, the most important thing you can do is be there for your kids. Give them your full attention. Ask questions, listen to them, and stay connected, not only as they start the school year but throughout their studies. Being a proactive parent will help identify potential issues early and ensure your child has access to the tools and support they need to navigate them confidently.