FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – With the start of the fall semester on the horizon, both parents and students are preparing to get back into the school routine.
Stacy Daniels, a guidance counselor at Fort Campbell High School, and Campbell Query, Fort Campbell performance expert with Magellan Federal, said parents can start doing small things early to help their children transition back into the classroom and set them up for success.
Plan a morning routine
Both Daniels and Query said it is essential to begin helping students prepare for the return to school by tackling one of everyone’s least favorite parts – getting up in the morning.
“Summer lends itself to lax routines and sometimes children sleep late, eat at random times, and go to bed at their leisure,” Daniels said. “As a new school year begins, morning routines need to be re-established. To help your child be successful in the morning, it is important to discuss what the morning routine will look like when school begins. When children know and understand what will be happening, they tend to have decreased apprehension and a clear-cut idea of the tasks they need to accomplish.”
It’s not just about getting up on time but about keeping with a well-established routine so that children don’t feel rushed first thing in the morning, Query added.
“Begin planning your morning routine,” he said. “Be sure to allow ample time for your students to prepare for their day. Being rushed in the morning can cause students to panic or have anxiety about being late.”
Plan an evening routine
While getting up early may be most students’ least favorite part of starting the new school year, Daniels said it’s re-establishing an appropriate time to go to bed that seems to be more of a struggle.
“After the summer months, bedtime seems to be one of the hardest transitions students must make when returning to school,” she said. “Children are likely accustomed to going to sleep at a later time and waking up later and a new school schedule can be difficult to get acclimated to and so similar to having a morning routine, creating a schedule for the night hours can assist in helping children develop a realistic perspective.”
Children will likely be resistant to the new sleep time at first because they have been used to more freedom throughout the summer and may ask for more TV time or extended play with video games, but it is up to parents to set firm limits and to enforce expectations for bedtimes, Daniels said.
For those who struggle to keep with evening sleep times, Daniels suggests parents use five- and 10-minute warning times so children know play time is coming to an end and that it’s time to wind down for the evening.
Getting into a consistent sleep pattern is key for students to succeed academically because they perform better when they are well-rested, Query added.
Going back to school is different for every student, Daniels said, and not just in how they process routines but how they respond to the new environment and for some students – especially if this is their first year at a Fort Campbell school – this can produce feelings of fear and anxiety.
If this is the case, it’s important parents validate their child’s feelings, she said.
“Sometimes children are nervous to begin school,” Daniels said. “As a military-connected school system, many of our students are new and ‘newness’ adds to feelings of anxiety as well. It is vital for parents to validate their child’s feelings by letting their student know that nervous or apprehensive feelings about the start of something new, especially a new school or new school year, is normal.”
Make time for both study and play
Query said another important step in helping prepare students for returning to school is to be sure to create time in the day for study.
“Begin incorporating learning time into your daily schedule,” he said. “Set aside some time for your students to read, practice their math, or work on their writing.”
While going back to school does mean summer has come to an end, it doesn’t mean children don’t need time for play as that creative time is important for children to grow as people, Query said.
“Be sure your students have time to run, play and use their imagination throughout the day,” he said. “Although we want to prepare them for school, time for students to use their imagination, play outside and be active are equally as important.”