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8 Back-to-school strategies for success!

As the lazy hazy crazy days of summer come to a close, many families begin to think about the upcoming school year and start planning regular routines. This summer, help your child get into a healthy pre-school or high school mode with the following simple steps:


Many schools offer families the chance to tour their child’s school while programs are not in session. If able, visit your child’s school and check out a classroom, cubby or locker area, the cafeteria, and the campus grounds (including playgrounds and fields). Ask if there’s a school administrator available to go over school policies, such as how to check out a book or e-book from the library, and answer any questions about specific concerns or interests, such as sport and art offerings, and if there are rules about sharing school-related photos on social media.
Some schools may be tech-free, while others encourage students to use their own phones or school tablets to complete work and collaborate with classmates. Make sure your children know what is expected of them – everything from what they can and can’t bring to school, to the rules for using school-owned devices both at school and at home.
Your child’s teachers will most likely tell you how to best keep in touch with them, whether through a class web portal, email address, or meeting with them before or after school. Make sure you let them know how to best reach you so that you are able to check in when you have questions or concerns. As the school year progresses, ask your child’s teachers about how your child is doing, 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 schoolwork 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, help them stay on task, and be available to answer any questions.
Getting enough sleep is an important factor in children’s success at school. Research shows that when kids have media in their bedrooms, they are more likely to have sleep problems, such as going to bed later, sleeping for shorter times, and waking up during the night. Poor sleep habits can lead to obesity and learning problems. 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 healthy habits before the school year begins by talking to your kids about the importance of sleep. Then, make their bedrooms media-free spaces, 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 their sleep.
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 you may decide to designate screen-free times using a media plan.
Encourage your children to be involved in a variety of different activities such as sports, drama, and other hobby clubs and/or afterschool programs. Also be sure that they have plenty of time for free play, and play with friends and family. Research shows that certain types of play can benefit your child’s development and their performance in school.
Model the behaviors you want your kids to learn and adopt when it comes to their own media use. Be aware of the media you use, especially when your child is present. Children and teens often pay more attention to what you do than what you say, so avoid multitasking with media, using media before you go to bed, and checking your phone during family meals. Media can be educational and fun, but they cannot replace the learning that takes place when you and your child interact directly with each other.