Sponsored by: School for Little Children
Summer break is slowly coming to an end, and that means school is around the corner. Back to school time is arriving in full swing and that can be scary for parents and kids alike. Things like summer slide and anxiety are common during this time.
However, there’s good news here. There are ways to get ahead of the game so both you and your child are prepared for the upcoming school year.
Tip #1: Tackle Summer Slide Before it Starts
Summer slide, or summer learning loss, happens when a child experiences a significant amount of learning loss during summer break. A recent study was done and showed that students between 3rd and 5th grade lost around 20% of their reading capability and 27% of their math capability during this time.
While this is an issue, there are several ways for your family to combat it. Many educational companies offer summer bridge workbooks that coordinate to different elementary age levels. These are good supplemental tools for young children, but if you have middle-high schoolers or your child doesn’t do well with workbooks, then there are other ways to keep their brains active:
- Read together often. Reading together has been proven time and time again to benefit your child’s reading comprehension and vocabulary skills.
- Cook together. Cooking together is a great way to sneak math practice into everyday life.
- Check out library programs near you. Libraries are great educational tools for every subject. Most library systems offer fun educational programs year-round.
Tip #2: Pick Something to Learn About Together For the Rest of Summer
Choosing an interesting topic to learn about together will get your child excited for science, social studies, or other complementary subjects this coming school year. For the last few weeks of summer, ask your child what they’d like to know more about. Use whichever topic they choose to help you plan activities, field trips, and library visits to learn more about the topic.
A child who wants to learn more about art might enjoy visits to the art museum or an art class via Outschool. If your child is more interested in fantasy figures or fictional characters, it might be nice to see a local play (if available) or you may help them create their own play or story.
These topics can be as elaborate as U.S. history or something as simple as learning about cats and dogs. Regardless of what the topic is, the most important thing is to let your child choose what to learn.
Tip #3: Keep a Consistent Routine
Regardless of school schedules, a solid routine is never a bad idea. Children, in general, thrive on a routine. Waking up around the same time they would for school helps them get into the habit of doing so during the school year. This doesn’t have to be done for the entire summer, as long as the habit starts 2-3 weeks before the start of the school year.
Tip #4: Practice Mindfulness Together
Mindfulness is a great tool to practice, especially for kids who deal with anxiety. Practicing mindfulness activities together will give them different coping mechanisms to choose from when they have big feelings. Rather than lashing out or closing up, these mechanisms will allow them to healthily express how they’re feeling. Here are some good ideas for practicing mindfulness:
- Deep breaths: When they’re feeling overwhelmed, encourage them to sit up straight and take three deep breaths. They should breathe deeply through the nose and release slowly through the mouth.
- Sensory check-in: If they’re panicking, do the sensory check-in. This includes five things they can see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste (if anything).
- Feel good lists: For calming pre-first day jitters or any anxious feelings beyond those, have them think about three things they’re excited about for the upcoming school year. This gives them something to look forward to.
Tip #5: Take Them With You To Buy School Supplies
As a kid, school supply shopping was my favorite part of a new school year. This was a time when I had at least a little control over my school experience. Even if it’s just to pick out a new pencil pouch or backpack, this is a great way for your child to show off their personality.
Tip #6: Create a Designated Homework and Study Space In Your Home
Set aside a specific space in your home where your child can do their homework or study for upcoming tests. This doesn’t have to be an entire room with an elaborate setup (unless that’s what you want!). A quiet corner in the kitchen, living room or bedroom with a table and chair is perfectly acceptable.
Tip #7: Adjust Bedtime Schedules
We know most kids stay up later during the summer months and that’s okay! Summer is meant to be a break away from the rigidity of the school year. However, if your child has become a summertime night owl, it’s important to help them train their body back to an appropriate schoolyear bedtime so they can get adequate sleep.
Start the School Year Strong
Preventing summer slide, creating a solid routine, and giving them healthy coping mechanisms to anxious feelings are going to give your child the best possible start to their new school year. The best thing you can do for them as their parent is be as supportive as possible.
Take the time to engage with them during these last few weeks together and your child will undoubtedly start the school year strong. Have you dealt with back-to-school jitters before? How did your family tackle them? We want to know!
School for Little Children is an early childhood program that has been educating children and supporting families since 1934, located in the heart of downtown Evanston.
Phone: 847.864.3889 | Web: slcevanston.org | Email: email@example.com