Picking out backpacks, shopping for clothes, and stocking up on paper and pencils are a tell-tale sign that school is coming. For some, the new school year begins this week. Whether you have a kindergartner or a senior, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips to help ensure a terrific school year.
Making the First Day Easier
• Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers know that students are anxious and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
• Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun! She’ll see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh her positive memories about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.
• Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school or ride on the bus.
• If you feel it is appropriate, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day.
Bullying can be physical, verbal or social. It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or through mobile devices like cell phones.
If your child is bullied:
• Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to:
1. Look the bully in the eye.
2. Stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation.
3. Walk away.
• Teach your child how to say in a firm voice:
1. “I don’t like what you are doing.”
2. “Please do not talk to me like that.”
3. “Why would you say that?”
• Teach your child when and how to ask for help.
• Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
• Support activities that interest your child.
• Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
• Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child’s safety and well-being when you cannot be there.
• Monitor your child’s social media or texting interactions so you can identify problems before they get out of hand.
If your child is the bully:
• Be sure your child knows that bullying is never OK.
• Set firm and consistent limits on your child’s aggressive behavior.
• Be a positive role model. Show children they can get what they want without teasing, threatening or hurting someone.
• Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges.
• Develop practical solutions with the school principal, teachers, counselors and parents of the children your child has bullied.
If your child is a bystander:
• Tell your child not to cheer on or even quietly watch bullying.
• Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult about the bullying.
• Help your child support other children who may be bullied. Encourage your child to include these children in activities.
• Encourage your child to join with others in telling bullies to stop.
Developing Good Homework Skills
• Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework. Youngsters need a permanent work space in their bedrooms or another part of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.
• Schedule ample time for homework.
• Establish a household rule that the TV set stays off during homework time.
• Supervise computer and Internet use.
• Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child’s homework for her.
• Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. It may be helpful to close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically when it will not be too disruptive.
• If your child is struggling with a particular subject, and you aren’t able to help her yourself, a tutor can be a good solution. Talk it over with your child’s teacher first.
• Some children need help organizing their homework. Checklists, timers, and parental supervision can help overcome homework problems.