A Good Start for the First Day of School

Mother hugging her son at entrance to new schoolIn Australia, the new school year starts today.  I would like to share with you some useful rules to help start the year on a positive note, which I have also sent personally to all my clients.

Even though the first week of the school year is not very important in terms of learning material (because most teachers do not teach new things), I believe it is one of the most important weeks. It is a pivotal point for setting the right frame of mind to ensure a good year.

Most kids are very excited to start the year, but they have mixed emotions of anticipation and fear. What happens during the first week of school will determine which will prevail – the fun and excitement, the dread from the new teacher, worries about academic performance or concerns about making new friends.

In the first week of school, teachers dedicate most of their time to setting the tone for themselves and their students. The best things parents can do to prepare their kids and make this week a successful transition from vacation to school, is to make it easy for the teachers to start in a positive way.

Here are some rules you can follow to make this week successful.

How to have a great school year

  1. Have all your books covered and labeled. If you can, laminate them. The best thing is to have all of them covered with the same wrapping paper or to have color coded books and notebooks. When your child is looking for their notebooks, it is easy to search for their own distinct wrapping. Laminated books and notebooks still look clean after 3 weeks. Write the name of your child and the name of the subject in a permanent marker inside as well, in case the small colorful labels fall off.
  2. Wrapped book and pencilMake sure your child has a good night’s sleep (10 hours) every day of the week. Even if you go to sleep a bit late on Friday, make sure Saturday and Sunday are back to the school year routine. Tired kids cannot think properly and are very edgy.
  3. Make contact with other parents in the class. This can help you if you are not sure what is happening in class or your child is not very good at explaining things.
  4. Every day before bed, help your child get their things ready for the next school day. As a parent, dedicate 10 minutes every night to help your child think and plan the following day. Stick to this plan for 3 weeks and it will make sure you kid will not get up in the morning and say “oops, my dress is in the laundry”. Think of uniform, socks, shoes, books, even choose a hair piece … This may be the best habit your child can have.
  5. Go to school with your child on the first day of the year. Make sure to get there early. Talk to your child about choosing a seat that is in the middle of the class and never in the last row. Teachers may change the seating arrangement later but it is best to sit in a place where the child cannot be easily distracted.
  6. Take the teachers’ contact details and make sure to use them if you need to ask questions. Make sure not to abuse it though. Teachers welcome involved parents but if you take too much of their time, they will not be happy.
  7. In the morning, tell your child, “Today will be a great day!” to set them up for a good day. Ask your child to think of 3 possible good things that will happen to them at school. This will make their mind “search” for these things.
  8. Teach your kids to be super polite to the other children. Teachers love polite kids. They offer help, volunteer, say “please” and “thank you”– in class, these are the magic words.
  9. Encourage your child to make good use of their diary. Whenever the teacher is saying something they need to remember, they need to write it in their diary and come home and talk to mum or dad about it. Make sure nothing is forgotten.
  10. Books spread out on a tableMake sure your kids do their homework as soon as they get it. There is a 7-hour window of optimum memory that is essential for learning. If you do it the day after, it is too late!
  11. In life, we get what we focus on. Every evening at dinner, ask your kids to share 3 good things that happened at school during the day.

A good start is very important. You might notice that after a week or so, the routine is harder to keep because the enthusiasm of the new year has faded a little. If you make sure to keep the routine for 3 weeks after school starts, the chance of it making a good habit is bigger and it will help your child keep the enthusiasm and the excitement going during the year.

Happy school year!