10 Aug 2023

Jump Start the School Year!

When I first moved to Virginia, school started after Labor Day, a Fall month with cooler days, following a grand finale long weekend. I think it is harder for kids to adjust to school in mid-August, when it still feels like summer. Many parents and students are thinking ahead by preparing for school right now – buying school supplies, finishing summer reading and math packets, and adding structure to the summer routine.

Before school begins, we can work on improving executive functioning skills. Setting up routines and learning how to follow through with a task are things we can do immediately.

Set Morning Alarms: Set your student up for success by working together to schedule reasonable bedtime and wake-up schedules for August. Students should set their own alarms, maybe two of them, to wake up independently. To improve motivation, some fun activity, like swimming or a day trip, can be planned for the morning. There should be some structure and planning to each day.

Work on Executive Functioning: Executive Functioning is the planning required to complete tasks and manage your life.  Learn more, including 10 Fun Activities that Teach Executive Functioning to Kids and Teens.

Practice Following Through with a Task: Following through with any task gets the brain ready for school. This can include chores, pet care, following a recipe, and cleaning and organizing your bedroom.

Keep your Brain Active: Fun summer activities can get the brain ready to learn new material when school starts. This can include:

  •  Doing simple home science experiments
  •  Building structures with Legos or other materials
  • Writing and performing a play or video with friends
  • Visiting local historical sites
  •  Playing board games and word or digital games online
  • Practicing math facts
  • Reading for pleasure

Cultivate Reading Habits: Reading regularly will stimulate your brain and enhance your ability to absorb new material. Explore a variety of reading materials, from fiction to nonfiction, to enrich your your learning experience.

Begin Organizing School Materials: Take the time to develop a personal organizational system for school supplies. Some students like having all subjects in one binder, other students prefer two subjects per binder, and other students hate binders and prefer color coded, labeled folders. While the world had become more and more digital, many teachers still use worksheets, and it is imperative that students learn systems to easily file these worksheets for quick retrieval.

Plan for Time Management: It is important to create a calendar to keep track of assignments. I love the Google calendar, which can be shared among various devices and color coded by category. Some students prefer old fashioned planners to physically write everything down. Other students prefer a blank notebook. We also can set up phone reminders for tasks.

Set Goals: Goals for the school year may include being on time, being more organized, improving grades, enhancing study habits, managing time effectively, or gaining confidence in a particular subject.

Consider Hiring an Academic Coach: For any student who struggles with organization, time management, and homework completion, it is advantageous to have an academic coach to help get organized right at the beginning of school. A coach can help your child reduce stress and learn organizational skills and studying techniques while gaining confidence. Many students work more effectively with a coach than with their parents.  Learn more about Academic Coaching.

By Cheryl Gedzelman, President, Tutoring For Success, Inc.

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