By Amanda Jeane Strode, 4th Grade Teacher, Technology Innovator
*can we add a small headshot of me on the side?
Back to school this year is going to look a bit different than usual. Many families are sending their students back with the usual classroom supplies, plus masks. There are new government regulations for social distancing and sanitizing that will continue to ebb and flow even after school starts. Some of our families are choosing alternative forms of education, including cyber schools and homeschooling. However, no matter where your kids are learning, there are a few things that will not change.
As a classroom teacher, I can tell you that the beginning of the year is a flood. That waterfall of paperwork you receive in the first few weeks is flowing with news and how-tos that will help you navigate the year. Don't give into the urge to toss all that paper in the recycling bin! Instead, take the time to sit down and do your homework.
Set aside a chunk of time to read through and organize all the forms and information each week. Sign all the forms, read the statements, and put those dates on your calendar now! If you have a teacher that does everything digitally, commit the time to check your email or notifications. Either way, getting that paperwork done goes a long way in starting the school year off on the right foot.
Also, give that paperwork and other school materials a home. Find one location, a drawer, a folder, a bin, where school material belongs and keep it there. Some of the best organization advice I’ve picked up from years of watching Peter Walsh and Marie Kondo: If everything has a place, nothing is ever lost.
Not only do our students need to practice their academics, they need to practice their routines. One of the most important things you can do to help your student succeed at school is develop routines at home. When I was little, my mom would have us start going to bed early and waking up early even before the first day of school. Bedtime, breakfast and academic practice are all important routines to setup and stick to.
Some great routines to get in the practice of now:
- Be in bed everyday by a certain time without any screens. Research shows that blue light dramatically affects our circadian rhythm in a negative way. Learn more here: https://bit.ly/BlueLightStudy
- Eat breakfast everyday. We have known for many years that breakfast has a profound effect on our students' performance and success. Make sure your students sit down and eat something healthy everyday. Learn more here: https://bit.ly/BreakfastandSchool
- Establish a homework and reading routine. Include your student’s input, needs and wants into a plan and follow through. There are many ways to make homework go more smoothly, and routine is at the top of the list. Learn more here: https://bit.ly/HWKRoutine
There is a lot to do and keep track of as the school year begins. Be sure to regulate how much time and energy your family puts into different parts of your day. Homework time should be matched by playtime, social time should be matched by personal time, and sports & activities should be matched by family time. We all need balance.