by: Kelly Fliller
Summer seems to go by faster than any other season. The stores have already begun to set up their back to school displays and the bathing suits are being swapped out for sweaters. As a kid, I remember being excited at all of the possibilities of a new school year. My favorite part or preparing was my annual back to school shopping day with my cousin. We would shop for latest clothing trends, making sure we had the perfect outfit for the first day of school. The best part was getting our school supplies. We had to have pens in every color of the rainbow (back when that was actually hard to find in the stores) and the latest Trapper Keeper (does anyone even remember those?). Along with the fun of preparing comes the stress of the unknown. New teachers, new classmates, maybe even a new school. Here are some tips for students, with the help of family, that may ease the transition into the new school year.
- Stay organized and create a dedicated homework space – This should be in an area that is quiet and well lit, with enough space to spread out to work on bigger projects. Keep a stock of necessary supplies handy – pens, pencils, paper, calculator, craft supplies for projects, (the list goes on) and put them in small desk caddies. This space should also be inspiring! Hang up a small bulletin board so your kids can put up pictures of their friends or other fun images that motivate them. The possibilities are endless!
- Post the daily schedule – starting a new routine can be overwhelming. Creating a visual schedule of daily activities can help reduce some of the back to school jitters. Think about adding wake up time, when to be at the bus stop, after school activity times and locations, homework schedule, dinner time and bed time to a dry erase calendar. This is an easy way to make edits as needed and before you know it, you’ll be a pro at your new routine!
- Stay focused – just like a change in routine can be overwhelming, so can a new workload and classroom. To help your child stay focused, take a few minutes to show them how to concentrate on their breathing. A few deep breaths can recharge the mind. In class, taking notes and asking questions may also help students say focused on the lesson. Connor, a student at Toms River Intermediate North has a great tip for his fellow students. He said, “You have to concentrate and focus on every word your teacher says, it will benefit you academically. Anything silly that you want to do can wait until the next free moment. Your education is more important than telling a joke to one of your friends during class time. Save the joke for when the bell rings!”
- Stay energized with healthy snacks – it’s tempting to come home and grab a candy bar or can of soda. But lots of sugary treats can cause a spike in blood sugar leading to an energy crash. Opt for some healthy treats like carrots and hummus, apple and peanut butter or homemade trail mix with dried fruit and nuts. Of course, this will vary based on your child’s dietary restrictions, but a mix of protein, healthy fats and complex carbs will help sustain their energy and keep them focused. Make snack time extra fun by creating a fruit kabob caterpillar or an English muffin owl with your kids. You will find lots of great ideas on Pinterest!
- Get plenty of sleep – getting a good night’s sleep is so important for our health. Moving from the summertime schedule of going to bed late and sleeping all morning can be a very hard habit to break. Stick to a set bedtime and wake up time each day. Starting a couple weeks before the first day of school can help your kids ease back into the routine. And if your child is going from elementary to middle school, the wake up time may be even earlier. Getting them adjusted sooner than later can save you all from some hectic mornings. Set a bedtime routine of what works best for you and your kids – bath time, brushing teeth, getting clothes ready for the next day, packing the backpack – anything that can be done to make the morning stress free! Scott Corbett, Principal of Ocean Academy said, “While the first day of school is exciting for many, getting up early is not so fun. Start to adjust your child’s wake and bedtimes one to two weeks before the first day to provide an easier transition and a ready mind.”
There are so many great strategies in addition to these that can help students have a successful school year. And this doesn’t stop at the kids! Parents and teachers can apply these and other tips to reduce stress during the year. Stay positive and focused, participate in the lessons and remember – learning can be fun, it’s all about what you make it! Mark Wilson, Director of Cultural Affairs at The Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County College keeps his advice simple with, “Respect your teachers, value your own opinions and know when to put one in front of the other.”
Here’s to a wonderful school year for the students, parents and teachers!