Back-to-school time

August 15, 2017

“School days, school days,
dear old golden rule days.
Readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic
taught to the tune of a hick'ry stick.”

Try to contain your excitement, parents. It is back-to-school time! Our dear children will return to their routine of daily academic lessons, your grocery bill that escalated during the summer will return to its baselines and carpools will resume. 

In an effort to prepare our children for returning to school, I suggest the following tips:

Reduce screen time 

During the summer, many children gorge on video games, YouTube videos, cell phones and TV shows. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children ages 6 and older should watch less than two hours of total screen time a day. Please begin to decrease screen time by one hour a day, and no screens one hour before bedtime. Monitor for signs of video game withdrawal — headaches, crankiness, boredom, begging, pleading.

Sleep routine

Many children and teens have poor sleep routines over the summer. Children and teens should be on their school sleep schedule at least one week before school starts. If your child sleeps well into the late morning or afternoon, please wake her up one hour earlier each day until she is on her regular sleep and wake-up schedule. Do not put her to bed earlier because she will not be sleepy yet. No daytime sleep or naps please. Save all sleep for bedtime.

Academic practice

Children who practice reading, writing and math skills throughout the summer are best prepared to return to school. If academic practice has not been part of your child’s summer routine, I encourage you to start reading with your child 30 minute a day. Choose fun reading materials your child will enjoy, such as magazines, comic books, graphic novels and books. Ask him to write down the grocery list or family to do list on weekends. Use the grocery store experience as a place to practice math concepts and reading.

Homework routine

Create a homework space for each child in the home. The homework space may include a table and chair, a shoebox of school supplies (pencils, pens, extra paper, index cards, highlighters, etc.), and be in an area that is as distraction-free as possible. Establish a “daily quiet time” in the home designated for homework, studying and reading with no screens.

Introduction letters

I encourage you to write a one-page introduction letter to each of your child’s teachers. The letter can include his picture, a few strengths and challenges, and teaching suggestions. Include your cell phone and email address. Deliver the letters one week before school starts. This will nurture the parent-teacher relationship.

Consult the following websites for more back-to-school ideas:

Here’s wishing you a wonderful 2017-2018 school year!

Post by:

Adiaha I.A. Spinks-Franklin, MD

Dr. Spinks-Franklin's research interests are in the areas of the cultural aspect of child development. Her previous research experience included studying the development of children in Senegal, West Africa, and studying the mental health impact of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on school-...

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