Written by Sara Goettl
Getting ready to go back to school is exciting for parents and children.
Whether your child is entering kindergarten for the first time or heading back as a high school senior, you can get your child off to a great start by preparing for the beginning of the school year at least a week in advance.
Here are 10 helpful tips as you get your family ready to head back to school this fall . . .
- Schedule a check-up.
Make sure your child is up to date on immunizations and has had a well-child physical completed in the last year. If your child is in sports, make sure he or she has a sports physical prior to school starting. (You can check the status of your child’s immunizations online at the Wisconsin Immunization Registry.)
- Take a tour.
If your child is just starting school or starting a new school, help calm some of the uneasiness by taking your child on a tour of the school. Tour the main areas of the school, including the classroom(s), gym, cafeteria, restrooms, and library. Meet your child’s teacher(s) and principal. Becoming familiar with the school building and staff can help your child (and YOU!) feel more comfortable.
- Prepare the night before.
Pack lunches and pick out school clothes the night before. Being prepared can help ease tensions on the first day (and throughout the schoolyear). Don’t forget to encourage good hygiene habits like brushing teeth daily, washing hands often, and using proper coughing/sneezing etiquette to prevent the spread of germs.
- Establish routines.
At least a week before the first day of school, start having your child go to bed and wake up close to the time he or she will need to when getting ready for school. This will help your child’s body adjust to the new schedule and get a good night’s sleep. Establishing a healthy bedtime/waking routine is also good for parents, so you can be your best for your child.
- Make healthy meals & don’t skip breakfast.
Make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast every day before school. This will help provide energy to focus and to do his or her best work. Your child is growing and using a lot of energy during school, so it is also a good idea to prepare healthy choices for afterschool snacks.
- Make afterschool arrangements.
If your child needs afterschool care, make sure he or she is aware of where to go and how to reach you if needed. Also make sure your child and any caregivers know what to do in case of an emergency.
- Support healthy study habits.
Encourage a home environment for learning by designating a place and time after school for doing homework and studying. Make it a habit to ask your child about his or her school day and homework on a daily basis. Drive time after school provides a great opportunity to engage in conversations. Asking open-ended questions like the following may help initiate more of a conversation than a simple one- or two-word response:
- What was the best part of your day?
- Who did you play with today?
- What was something you learned today?
- What didn’t you like about your day?
- What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
- Focus on spending time as a family (& limiting screen time).
Spending time together is important and gives your child a break away from his or her studies and from social media. Make it a habit to set aside time to spend together as a family every day. This could be simple things like eating dinner together, taking a short walk as a family, reading a book aloud, or playing a game together.
- Have a positive attitude.
Children learn by example. If you reflect a positive attitude about school (and life in general), it will help foster positivity and enthusiasm in your child. For example, if you express frustration by shouting or slamming doors, you can expect to see that same behavior when your child is frustrated. Instead talk about what frustrates you and why. Role-model taking control of what you can and letting go of what is not in your control.
- Be involved.
Encourage your child to join activities, groups, and sports he or she is interested in. Then try to be involved in and supportive of your child’s school and extracurricular activities as much as you can. During downtime, be aware of your child’s social network and monitor his or her behavior, especially on social media. If social issues or bullying concerns arise, visit www.stopbullying.gov for tips and advice. In addition, all Marathon County schools offer professional counselors on site to assist with any bullying or social concerns you may have.
* * *
Marathon County’s Start Right program provides education, support, and resources to help families in Marathon County raise healthy, school-ready kids. From pregnancy through age 5, from personal home visits to Family Resource Center visits, Start Right provides the support that parents need to become their children’s first teachers. Visit our website for more information on Start Right.
Public Health Nurse | Marathon County Health Department
Sara Goettl, RN, BSN, is a Public Health Nurse for the Start Right program at the Marathon County Health Department. Sara graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2011 and has a passion for working with children and families. In the Start Right program, Sara meets with pregnant women and families who have children ages 5 and under. She provides education and links families to community resources within Marathon County. She truly enjoys her work and loves supporting the growing families in Marathon County. In her free time, Sara likes spending time outdoors with her husband and two children, cooking, and gardening. Email Sara Goettl.
You might also like…
- Marathon County Public Library (MCPL) Unveils Its BRAND-NEW Early Literacy Center
- “Marathon County Teen” Documentary Reveals Real-Life Struggles of Area Teens
- Financial Hardship in Marathon County :: What the ALICE Report Reveals About Local Jobs & Wages
Please email our Editorial Board with your comments, suggestions, and article ideas.
And if you spot a typo or an inaccuracy, please contact us so we can fix it. Thanks!