School Begins: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

by Dick Buckingham

Summer is almost over and school’s beginning is just around the corner.  It is this time of year that students begin to look forward to school beginning.  More and more students that I speak to these days can’t wait to get going at school with their friends, teachers and learning.  It is not so much that they are tired of their summer vacation, but they have had ample time to recharge their batteries and they are eager to continue on the quest for knowledge.  This is an exciting time of year when everyone, including parents, is gearing up for a new school year.  But a successful school year start does not just happen.  The best starts to the school year are ones where we carefully plan and prepare our children.  Let me share a few ideas.

Correct summer habits.  During the summer time, children often stay up late, sleep in and generally keep whatever schedule they want.  A wise parent is one who begins to bring back a schedule for his or her children a week or two prior to the beginning of the school year.  Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, but aren’t able to correct several months of a lack of schedule overnight.  I know it is difficult to communicate to children that it is time to start going to bed at a reasonable hour and getting up earlier to get ready to arrive at school timely, but you will save yourself and your child much difficulty in the first few weeks of school if you prepare them before hand.  Make it fun!  Plan some early morning activities that they can look forward to!

Out with the old.  While we are talking about less than helpful habits, let’s not overlook the tendency our children have to sit in front of the television or video game for long periods of time during the summer.  This is not something that can continue if they are to be successful in school this year.  Help them begin to trim back on their TV and game time and choose to do other things that will help them to stimulate their minds.

Activate their bodies. While children are generally busy and active during the summer, it is helpful to get them moving a little more, getting their bodies awake and ready for a more active routine.  Try to schedule some exercise each day.  In fact, you could combine this one with the first suggestion and plan to go a couple of mornings a week to a neighborhood park when they can play and exercise to get their brains going and fresh.  It will be much cooler then as well.

Feed their brains.  Let’s face it; we all let nutrition go out the window a little during the summer time.  Who doesn’t enjoy the dish of ice cream before bed or the bag of popcorn while watching a movie on TV?  But we also know that what we feed our bodies is what fuels our bodies and our minds.  Start getting your child back in the habit of making good food choices and tone up their eating habits.  The side benefit is that you can get back on the wagon again yourself!

Stimulate their thinking.  I know we really are not supposed to take a break from thinking about things over the summer, but let’s all admit that we do kind of let our thinking and intellectual habits slide as well.  If your child hasn’t been reading all summer, make sure they read a book or two prior to the school year beginning.  Get a book yourself and sit down and read at the same time.  Replace some of the TV and game time with this good and helpful practice.  Nothing can stimulate the mind like a good book.

Get their number.  Try to find ways to get them to brush up on their math skills.  For the younger ones, have them count forwards and backwards, add and subtract.  For those a little older, review the multiplication tables.  You can make this fun by doing it with things you are already doing.  Have them add fractions as you are using a recipe to put dinner together.  Have them count the number of steps it takes to make one lap around the playground and figure out how many steps they ran in 8 laps. For the older students, ask them to differentiate the coefficient of the tangent as x approaches 0.  Well, ok, that may be a bit much, but you get the idea.

Structure, move, eat right, and stimulate their brains.  Little things that you can do in the next couple of weeks to get your child’s school year off to the best start ever!  Even I am getting a little excited about the beginning of school just thinking about it!

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