Back-to-School Basics

Going back to school can be tough, even in ordinary circumstances — but this has not been another ordinary summer vacation. No one could have prepared for the turn of events that closed out the school year for 2020. E-learning from home was quite the curveball, and brought with it feelings of confusion and frustration, as well as a longer than normal school break. With the lengthened time away from typical classroom instruction, many parents have been left to wonder how they’ll ever get their kiddos in the back-to-school groove.

Dayton Parent spoke to veteran moms, educators and dedicated PTO members to ask for tips on how to help students prepare for the switch back to a normal school routine. Try some — or all — of these ideas, and make the summer-to-school transition a success for your family!

Abigail Shumaker is a local mom, as well as a preschool teacher for the Beavercreek City School District. During her time off from school she loves to swim, ride bikes and go on adventures with her son. 

“Begin talking to your child about returning to school,” Shumaker says. “Highlight the excitement of going back and discuss any fears or concerns they may have. This is important for all students, to prepare them mentally and emotionally.

“Consider turning off the TV and video games. Screens are addicting, we all know this. That desire to be on a screen can take away from the fun of hands-on learning. If you begin to cut back screen time prior to school, your child may adjust better.

“Lastly, go on a back-to-school shopping spree! Let your child pick out their own folders, pencils, backpacks, etc. Use this as an opportunity to share your own excitement with your child. Advancing a grade is a big accomplishment and an exciting time, so make it fun!”

Julie Carter, mom of two, has been a guidance counselor for Huber Heights Schools for 16 years and an educator for 27 years. Her favorite thing about summer break is being able to spend more time with family. 

Carter agrees that making an event out of school supply shopping is a great transition idea, and wants families to know that if it simply isn’t in the budget, you should reach out to your school counselor. Carter also added the following suggestions:

* Start practicing “school lunch” a week or two ahead of time. Pack lunches, practice opening containers, and eat in a 20-minute timeframe.

* Write goals for the next school year. Post them in the house.

* Set an alarm each night and practice waking up to it every morning.

* Begin to slowly move bedtime back a couple of weeks ahead of school. If you move it 15 minutes a night, it won’t be as hard!

* Pick out outfits for the first week of school.

* Celebrate! Bake a cake and decorate the day before the return to school.

Lea Pochet has been a PTO board member and a substitute teacher at her three children’s schools for several years. She looks forward to family vacations and going to the pool every summer. 

For Pochet and her family, continuing to learn throughout the summer has been the most helpful in easing the transition back to school. “As a family, we continue to learn every day,” Pochet says. “I purchase ‘Summer Bridge Workbooks’ for my younger kids to work on. I also get the books that are required for English class early in the summer and encourage them to read these twice. Our elementary school does a reading incentive program, so we try to read every day.

“Summer may be different this year with fewer trips to the zoo and museums, but there are a lot of teachable moments that I try to take advantage of. We even use board games such as Scrabble, Boggle and Yahtzee to promote learning opportunities. We try to do the best we can to have fun and learn at the same time. My final bit of advice is to stay positive! Our kids are always watching us.”

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