Most of the 19 school districts in the First State kick off their academic year the week of August 28, and there’s several ways families can ensure their children have a smooth transition back to the classroom.
“Parents should slowly start to wean their kids back to go to bed earlier so they wake up early,” said Bridget Amory, superintendent of Milford School District. “That helps ensure we aren’t dealing with tardiness and they wake up with enough rest and can be excited and not tired to go to school.”
She pointed out that research shows it often takes a minimum of 21 days or more to establish new habits.
“Therefore, there is no better time than the present for our families to begin preparing for the upcoming school year as it will be upon us before we know it,” she said.
Jennifer Massotti, who’s a mother of four and a Milford school board member, said establishing a back-to-school routine can set a predictable and familiar environment for students.
“As a parent, establishing a routine before school can be challenging,” she said. “Don’t give up and be consistent.”
She agreed with Amory that sleep is vital to a student’s success.
“Getting enough sleep is very important, and having the appropriate number of hours is very important for our health,” she said. “A proper night’s sleep allows our body’s cells to repair. The CDC states that children and adolescents who do not get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health and problems with attention and behavior.”
She cited the CDC again, saying that students are also more likely to have attention and behavior problems with a lack of sleep, which can contribute to poor academic performance.
One way to help child prepare for bedtime is to avoid any screen time for two hours before bedtime,” she said.
“The brain is being stimulated during technology time and you want the brain to start to unwind,” Massotti said. “This can facilitate better sleep habits, and our pediatrician recommended this to us.”
Amory said children need to get refocused, unplug a little from gaming and technology, and shift that focus onto what it feels like to have a pencil in their hand rather than a joystick.
Packing a lunch, setting out clothes and making sure all school items are in the backpack the night before can save valuable time in the morning, Massotti said, who reminded parents to remember school essentials like a laptop or a student’s sports uniform.
“Eating breakfast is so important because your brain needs food for energy,” she said. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and your child’s brain has gone all night without food, so you need to feed it.”
Once school starts, she said, parents should not take it to heart if their child does not respond back when asked “How was your day?”
“I have learned that sometimes they need time to decompress,” she said. “A parent of multiple kids may have one that talks your ear off after school and one that does not.”
This year, Milford is focusing heavily on attendance, Amory said, and attendance habits that happen in kindergarten carry on throughout an academic journey, so it’s important that parents encourage healthy habits from a young age.
“For our youngest Buccaneers, begin to provide children with opportunities to regularly separate from home and their caregivers for small amounts of time to ensure there is an ease of separation when school begins,” Amory said. “This exercise helps young children be reinforced in knowing their loved ones are eagerly awaiting their return upon the completion of their school day.”
Another benefit, she said, is helping young children recognize the importance of their time with others outside of their home.
It’s also important for parents to foster positive ideas about school for their children.
“This includes sharing the district calendar with them, talking about the new experiences, friends, and learning opportunities they may encounter in the upcoming year,” Amory said. “Talk to them about the many friendly faces they will be meeting, including greetings from bus drivers, child nutrition staff, custodians, coaches, teachers, administrators, and friends, both new and old.”
It’s just as important for district staff to create a welcoming atmosphere for students.
“Children need to know they can and should ask for help whenever needed,” Amory said. “Their requests can range from seeking help to find a new classroom, how to open a locker combination or carton of milk or how to help with a new learning concept.”
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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