Samantha Curiale-Feinman, MS.Ed., TSHH, Director
Many parents are concerned about what the transition back to school will look like this fall. Traditional summer break tends to come with a feeling that children have become “out of the academic game;” and ending the school year in quarantine has made many of us feel like the issue of summer regression has been exacerbated this year. What can we do to start getting our children ready to be students again? How do we transition our children from a summer that has consisted of a greater than usual amount of leisure time to one of structure and focus, high academic expectations, and intellectual stimulation?
As schooling options for the fall begin to roll out, we as parents need to support our children in the transition back to being ready to learn. Children are sponges, and have the capacity to absorb a lot of information very efficiently if they have the readiness skills to receive new information. As fall schooling decisions unfold, here’s what parents can do to set their children up to be ready for the return to school, regardless if they are in elementary, middle, high school, or beyond, or learning at home, in the classroom, or a combination of the two:
Practice listening skills: Learning requires one to receive information and then do something with that information, such as store it for future reference or use it to take action in the moment. Successful students are able to take in information and then do something with it. Young children can practice following simple directions every day (i.e., Please bring me the crayons, please get a tissue and put on your sneakers, etc.), whereas older children can practice following more complex, time-delayed directions (i.e., After you make your lunch, please take out the garbage and clean your room before playing video games). Structuring this practice and explaining to your children why it is important helps them to start thinking about how they think and process information, which is an essential skill for figuring out when they understand something and when they need help in doing so.
Follow a structured schedule: It is very easy for children to stay up late and sleep in during summer break, but it can be disruptive to their internal clocks, especially when they go back to a normal early morning school schedule. As much as children would like to stay up late, start getting them back into the routine of going to bed at a reasonable hour and up early so that it doesn’t become too much of a shock to the system when school is back in session. Practicing the transition from one event to another throughout the day can also assist in getting them back into a structured routine. Have your children create an agenda for the day consisting of realistic, tangible and achievable tasks and assist in holding them accountable for following and completing it. And reward them for small successes along the way!
Read, exercise, and do chores everyday: These three activities are very powerful and should be incorporated consistently into children’s daily schedules while school is in session and not. Reading every day improves skills such as vocabulary, comprehension, and memory. Daily exercise promotes a healthy lifestyle and can affect one’s level of happiness, energy, sleep quality, and overall well-being. Being responsible for completing chores each day encourages responsibility, independence, and pride in one’s work. Have your children incorporate these three things into their structured routine every day to encourage holistic development while also practicing goal directed behavior.
Getting ready to learn is an essential tool to setting children up for success and we can use this summer to guide our children there. See you in September!