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"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

Not Just For Kids


Although it still feels like the middle of the hot summer, the beginning of a new school year lies right around the corner. In homes and classrooms across the country, the more relaxed pace of summertime will soon come to an end for many children. Whether you are choosing your homeschool curriculum, sending a child off to school or college for the first time, or seeing them board the bus with old friends, the end of summer can be a stressful time of year. A little advance planning can help children prepare for the new school year and ease the transition from summer vacation to classroom education.

Children enjoy the casual habits of summer, snacking all day long, going to bed late and sleeping in. The more regimented schedule of the school day may come as a shock to their systems and result in an unpleasant first week of school if they're forced to make a sudden change. A week before school begins, have your children start going to bed early, getting up early, dressing and getting ready by the time they would normally have to go to school. Have them eat a good breakfast and then keep them out of the refrigerator until the same time their lunch will be served at school. This will help set their internal clocks to school time.

The days just before a new school year begins are full of anticipation and excitement, as well as uncertainty and apprehension. To instill confidence, take a trip to school with your children before the first day of class to see where their classrooms are located and to meet their teacher if possible. Have your child bring a friend along to make it an enjoyable event, and let them try out the playground equipment.

A transition as significant as the beginning of a new school year can be difficult for children of all ages. Tell your children some stories about your own school days, like the time you got chased by a dog and fell into the mud on the way to the bus stop. Sharing these stories will let your children know that you survived these experiences and can even laugh about them. This may help alleviate their fears, seeing that tragedies like that aren't so bad when you look back.

Check out some library books to read from now until school starts, and plan some fun educational activities for the remaining vacation days to get your children in the mood for learning. You may also want to help your children set goals for the year, such as making new friends, brushing up on old skills, or learning a new subject.

Set aside a special day to go shopping for school supplies and clothes as a family. Let your children choose their own clothes and supplies from the wide variety of styles and themes that are available. This way they can express their individuality, and they will be more likely to enjoy using those items that they had a say in picking out.

Although they won't need every supply on the first day of school, try to start your children off well equipped. Depending on what grade they are in, essential school supplies may include: pens, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, highlighters, markers, pencil sharpener, white glue, glue stick, transparent tape, erasers, book covers, folders, three-ring binders, spiral notebooks, composition notebooks, assignment pad/planner, construction paper, drawing paper, lined loose-leaf paper, graph paper, scissors, rulers, paperclips, stapler, calculator, wristwatch, backpack, and lunch tote. Even those homeschoolers who are taught all year round will appreciate having a brand new set of school supplies when moving up to the next grade, so stock up now while the stores have everything on sale.

Finally, remember that whether you homeschool your children or send them to a public, private, or charter school, you are your child's first and most important teacher. The best way to prepare your child for school is to provide love, support, stability, discipline, and encouragement. Parental involvement has the single most significant impact on a child's educational success.

Back-to-School Tips for Parents

Preschool: In the rush of school preparations, don't overlook your preschoolers. While you’re buying school supplies, get them a special treat such as a new box of crayons, or a picture book to pique their interest in reading and learning. In addition, you can give them an opportunity to be part of a group of children, such as at a playground. Children need to know how to take turns, make compromises, approach other children, obey those in authority, and be nice to others. You'll be helping them get ready for school in a roundabout way!

Elementary School: Create a phone chain with the names and phone numbers of your child's teachers and the parents of his/her classmates. This serves as a valuable telephone directory for the school year. It's a quick and easy way to share information about early dismissals, field trips, etc. Talk to your kids about being safe on the way to and from school. Remind your children to beware of strangers, and instruct them not to go with anyone who isn't their designated ride. It's also best to have someone meet them when they come home from school.

Junior High/High School: Make an effort to get to know your child's circle of friends. Write down their phone numbers in case you ever need to get in touch with them. Make sure your teenager has a healthy quick energy snack to get them through their after-school activities.

College: Care packages are a great way to show your child that you're thinking about them. A few of their favorite goodies will make them feel closer to home. A phone card will not only encourage your child to keep in touch, but will give you peace of mind knowing that they can get in touch when they need to.

Back-to-School Tips for Kids

Every student should have their own study space. Choose a place that is quiet and well lit. Any size desk or table will do as long as there is room for reading books and writing. Your study space should be shielded from the distractions of siblings, television, and other activity. Sit in a comfortable chair. Keep pencils, pens, paper, a dictionary, and other necessities close at hand, but keep your study surface clear and uncluttered. Hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door or on the back of your chair.

Set aside a regular study time. Whether you prefer to study in the afternoon right after school or in the evening after dinner, a routine will make it easier for you to concentrate. Begin with the least enjoyable tasks first to get them out of the way, then breeze through the easier assignments.

Make a set of flash cards to help you learn facts on almost any subject. All you need is a pack of index cards or 3 x 5" scratch paper. Write a math formula, science term, or vocabulary word on one side of a card, then write the answer or definition on the other side. Just making the card will help you to remember what's on it. Test yourself by reading each card and answering aloud before you check the other side. You can also have a friend or family member quiz you.

If you can, do your homework as soon as you get home from school. Then you can enjoy whatever free time you have left without having to think about starting on your homework. If clubs or other activities keep you busy in the afternoon, do your homework right after dinner to allow yourself enough time to finish it before you get too tired.

Lay out your next day's clothes the night before. Pack your backpack with books, homework, lunch money, and anything else you need to take. This way you can get up in the morning and relax, knowing that everything is ready to go. (This is especially helpful if you're not a morning person and have trouble thinking so early in the day!)

When you borrow library books, treat them as if they were treasures. Books are expensive, so don't damage or lose them. Keep them clean, protected, and bring them back on time for someone else to use.

Whenever you see your teacher, politely greet him or her with a nice "Hello, Ms./Mr./Mrs. Jones. How are you today?" You will likely get a friendly response, and if they are having a bad day it's sure to cheer them up. If you've especially enjoyed some part of a particular course, say so. Your teacher will really appreciate it.

If you have a complaint or think that you received an unfair grade, don't be afraid to bring it to your teacher's attention. Be honest and direct, but patiently listen to their explanation and try to understand what he or she has to say.

There's only one way to get good grades, and that's by studying and applying yourself. Cheating is obviously wrong, and when you cheat on homework or on a test, you're only cheating yourself out of learning the material, not to mention the humiliation you'll feel if you're found out.

Fun Fact: In Australia, the school year begins in January. In Japan, the school year begins in April!


Give your favorite student a personalized school kit in a reusable plastic storage box. Items to include (some are optional depending on the student's age): 1 pen, 2 pencils, a pencil eraser, portable pencil sharpener, 10 crayons, 3 different-colored highlighters, 1 black marker, safety scissors, a mini stapler, paperclips, mini phone/address book, memo pad, reinforcement rings, glue stick, ruler, small calculator, pocket dictionary, book mark, pocket tissue pack, package of antibacterial wipes, energy bar, a film canister with spare change, and a note of encouragement.

Make a Personalized Pencil Case

You will need: a potato chip canister with lid (Pringles brand), supplies to decorate it (colored construction paper, fancy wrapping paper, fabric scraps, Contact paper, stickers, paint, buttons, beads, etc.), and glue. Instructions: Wash out the can using soap and water; dry completely. Decorate the outside of the canister. You are only limited by the supplies you have and your own imagination. Be creative! (If desired, have an adult punch a hole on each side of the top of the can. Poke the ends of a ribbon or string through the holes; knot it on the inside to create a handle.)

Back-to-School Times

Make your own back-to-school newspaper. Interview friends, classmates and teachers to find out what they did over the summer and what they hope to accomplish this year at school. Remember that a good newspaper story always answers the questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how. You can write your articles by hand or on a computer. Illustrate your paper with pictures or cartoons that you draw, or computer clip art. If you have a camera, you could take pictures to go with the stories. Think of a name for your newspaper and write it across the top of the first page in big, bold letters. Make up catchy headlines for all of the articles. You may also want to include an advice column, joke corner, weather report, or classified ad. Make copies of your newsletter, staple the pages together, and hand one out to everyone in your class.

Back-to-School Printable Projects
Download and print projects such as school calendars, class schedules, report covers, photo cards, reward books, lunch box notes, and more! )


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
All rights reserved.

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