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Group of tweens sitting outside, many using cell phones, with backpacks

7 Back-to-School strategies for Success!

Getting kids back to school after summer break, or starting them off in their first year as students can be challenging. Help ease the process by preparing them before the first bell rings! Setting healthy media use guidelines for your family, modeling best practices, and getting to know the technologies your kids will be using in the classroom and at home, can help ensure a successful school year!

Here are 7 school year strategies for your children’s media use:

A young teen holding a tablet computer in a classroom, with a female teacher showing her something on another tablet computer
Go over the school rules for technology use with your child or teen. Some schools are cell-phone free, while others encourage students to use their phones to complete work and collaborate with classmates. Make sure your children know what is expected of them – everything from what they can bring to school, to the rules for the technologies they are given, such as school-issued tablets and laptops.
Keep the lines of communication open between you and your children’s teachers, and check in whenever you have concerns. Ask them about how your children are doing in their classrooms, both academically and socially. When it comes to technology, make sure your children are using devices, apps and programs the way their teachers intend them to – as tools to help their learning. Knowing the goals teachers set for the school year, and their plan for helping students reach these goals, can help you better support your children’s school work and tech use at home.
Research shows that when children and teens multitask with media (watching videos, chatting on social media, surfing the web, etc.) while doing homework, it takes them longer to finish and the quality of their work suffers. Help your kids stay focused by having them complete homework in a common room, such as the kitchen, where you can monitor their media use and help them stay on task.
Research shows that when kids have media in their bedrooms, they are more likely to be overweight, have sleep problems, and do poorly in school. Research also shows that kids with computers and internet access in their rooms sleep less and are more likely to use the internet in unsafe or unhealthy ways. Start the school year by removing all electronic media from your child or teen’s bedroom, and set up a charging station for devices, such as smartphones and tablets, in a common room or your bedroom to charge overnight. This can help you monitor your child’s media use and ensure that it does not interfere with her sleep. Keep homework time focused
During the summer schedules are often relaxed, including routines and rules for how children and teens use media. However, when it’s time to head back to school, you may want to create guidelines about how much media your kids can use on school nights vs. weekends. For example, you may decide that your children can use entertainment media, such as TV and video games, during the weekends but not during the week, or limit all entertainment media to one hour on school nights.
Encourage your children to be involved in a variety of different activities such as sports, arts, and other hobby clubs and/or afterschool programs. The more time they spend learning the trombone photography, scouts, or field hockey, the less time they’ll have to turn to media to entertain themselves. Scheduling a few afterschool activities a week can also help keep your children socially engaged and active. Remember to keep extracurricular activities balanced so that children and teens are not over-scheduled and still have plenty of downtime.
Model the behaviors you want your child or teen to learn and adopt when it comes to their own media use. Be aware of the media you are engaging in, especially when your child is present. Actions often speak louder than words, so avoid multitasking with media, using media before you go to bed, and make sure your devices are off and that you are focused on your family during mealtimes and when talking to each other. Media can be educational and fun, but it cannot replace the learning that takes place through direct parent and child interaction.