By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
A new school year is nearly upon us. And the excitement that you see on your child’s face is real – even for the student who finished last year with a deep scowl and resignation, or who struggled academically, or completely lost motivation and gave up. This year offers a new opportunity, which is filled with possibility. Boost your child’s positive thoughts, hopes, dreams, and exuberance (or at least hopeful tolerance) to create a successful outcome for this new school year.
The beginning of each new school year (as well as each card marking or semester) is a new beginning for your child and students. All of us like fresh beginnings; this is why we create New Year Resolutions in December/January. The following is a list of ideas to help your child to have a positive year.
- Have a conversation with your child to determine a designated place and time for homework. Rename it study time and make it a daily practice. When there is no homework, the student should make flash cards and study concepts.
- As explained in the article “Homework Helper”, encourage your child to chunk homework/study by working for short bursts (10-30 minutes) with 1-3 minute breaks.
- Begin adjusting your child’s bed time and waking times in 1/2-hour increments every couple of days to reach the proper sleep/wake times for the start of school.
- Create routines for morning, after school, evening and any other critical times. Make a picture list to remind young kids of daily routines (teeth brushing, clothes, shoes, backpack, etc). Have the child help select the order and the pictures.
- Discuss expectations for the school year. Your child wants success! Let him or her describe the goals, and discuss together how you can support them.
- When you receive notification from the school, look at the selected teachers and classes in relation to your child’s educational strengths and challenges. Consider course level and prerequisites, as well as your child’s temperament, physical or cognitive challenges, etc. If you have questions or concerns, speak to the principal, counselor or your child’s teacher at the earliest opportunity. (Not all requests can be granted, but the dialogue is important.)
- If your child has special needs (cognitive, medical, neurological, an IEP or a 504 Plan), contact the school counselor, teacher or principal and request a meeting of the key staff that will interact with your child in school. Be brief as you share information about your child’s situation and needs. If a possible concern is identified, an individual meeting can be held at a later date.
- Maintain communication with your child’s teacher(s) throughout the year.
- Remember that many students are creative, think out-of-the-box, lack attention to detail, and are highly sensitive. These are gifts.
- Visit the school and classroom(s).
- Learn the locations of: classroom(s), cafeteria, bathrooms, locker, etc. Be sure to practice how to move from one location to another in the order that the day designates.
- Collect school supplies (include a specific folder just for homework and index cards for flash cards).
- Find an agenda planner to keep track of homework, with a section for each subject. Select something that you are likely to use.
- Most students like to carry all books and folders to avoid locker trips. If selecting a backpack, consider:
- Is it large enough to hold my things without hurting me?
- Should it have rollers?
- Can if fit in the locker (if required by school)?
- Does it have a place for pens, pencils and other small items to be accessible?
- Identify where homework will be done. Clean and organize the area.
- Clean the bedroom so things are neat and orderly.
- Remember that even if the school environment is not your favorite place, you are so much more than a student. Remember ALL your gifts: creativity, passion, nature, athletics, music, art, your love for learning and more!
Wishing you all a school year of ease, peace, and social and academic success.
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties; work or school related anxiety; ADHD; Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders; and those who wish to Remember and Become Who You Really Are. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www. SpiralWisdom.net for more information.
Published in Metro You Magazine, August 2011