Uplift Voices

Back-to-School Preparation: A Comprehensive Parent’s Guide for a Smooth Start

The first day of school is an exciting milestone for children and parents. As a parent, you want to ensure that your child starts their academic journey on the right foot and experiences a smooth transition into their school environment. Taking a few practical steps and developing good habits prior to that first day can set your child up for success all year long.  

Tip 1: Familiarize Yourself with the School Environment  

Take a trip to school with your child before the first day. Consider morning traffic and parking options to ensure a hassle-free drop-off experience. Many schools have designated AM and PM carlines, so it’s advisable to check your child’s school website for pick/drop-off details. Be aware that traffic and travel times will be much longer when school is actually in session, so allow plenty of extra time.  No one wants to be late on their first day of school! Being aware of the logistics can alleviate anxiety and make the first day of school more comfortable for you and your child. 

Tip 2: Embrace the Power of a Good Night’s Sleep 

In the week leading up to school, establishing a healthy sleep routine for your child is crucial to set the stage for restful nights and productive days. This involves things like setting a consistent bedtime and creating a calming pre-bed routine that incorporates activities like: 

  1. Make it a family priority to get enough sleep. Set clear limits, such as what time lights must be turned off. 
  2. Have a bedtime routine. 
  3. Do relaxing things to help wind down, like taking a bath, listening to music, or reading a book. 
  4. Create a soothing environment. Make sure the room is not too cold or too hot and dim the lights.  It is okay to use a nightlight. 
  5. Spend some special time with your child before turning the lights off. Stick to topics that will not upset him or her. 
  6. Set an alarm clock for the morning wake-up time. 
  7. Your child should avoid drinks with caffeine, such as sodas, energy drinks, coffee and tea, especially in the afternoon and evenings. 
  8. Turn off any device with a lighted screen, such as cell phones, electronic games, and the computer, at least one hour before bedtime. The light from the screens can cause sleep problems that will keep your child awake. 

By prioritizing these practices and embracing a healthy sleep routine, you can ensure that your child’s nights are filled with rest and their days are filled with energy and productivity.  

Tip 3: Create a Morning Schedule  

Establish a morning routine with breakfast time, dressing, and organizing belongings. Teach your child time management skills to ensure a punctual start to the day.  

“Time management is something that children should begin practicing early in life,” recommends Dr. Remy Washington, President of Uplift Education, the largest charter school network in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. “At Uplift, we understand that certain character skills, like time management, communication, and caring, are critical to learn and practice, even for our youngest scholars.  We know it sets them up for success down the line, which is why we incorporate these practices into everyday classroom lessons.” 

Tip 4: Gear Up with Back-to-School Essentials  

Get a head start by going on a school shopping trip to gather all the necessary first-day-of-school supplies, backpacks, water bottles, and whatever else they might need. Having everything they need will boost their confidence and prepare them to conquer the day. Most school supplies lists can be found on your child’s school website. 

Tip 5: Fuel Their Brain for Success 

Kickstart their first day with a nutritious breakfast. If they are not hungry at 6 AM? No worries: check to see if your child’s school serves breakfast.  

“Breakfast is free for every scholar at Uplift Education,” stated Dr. Washington. “We put high emphasis on maximizing learning during the first part of the school day because we know that’s when kids are most primed to absorb and retain information.  A good breakfast is key for better memory, attention, and overall nutrition. 

Tip 6: Encourage Open Communication  

Talk to your child about their feelings regarding school, friends, and teachers. This conversation will help alleviate their concerns and allow you to provide the necessary support.  For ideas on how to get your child to talk about their day try these tips: 

  1. Ask open-ended questions. If you ask a question that can be answered with one word — yes or no — that’s what you’ll get. A one-word answer. Try asking open-ended questions instead. 
  2. Example: “What was the best thing you did at school today?” 
  3. Start with a factual observation. Kids often have a hard time answering questions that seem to come out of the blue. Making an observation gives your child something to relate to. 
  4. Example: “I know you have a lot more kids in your class this year. What’s that like?” 
  5. Share something about yourself. When someone tells you about themselves, it’s natural to want to do that in return. Share something with your child and see what you get back. 
  6. Example: “We always played dodgeball at recess. What do you and your friends like to do?” 

Phrasing your questions this way invites your child to talk. The goal is to have many small conversations over time. It helps to find natural moments to talk — like at dinner or riding in the car — when you’re not in a rush. Sometimes kids, like adults, just don’t feel like talking. It’s important to know when to stop asking questions and leave it for another time. But if there’s something urgent or serious going on, you’ll have to ask direct, specific questions and push for an answer. Identifying if your child is struggling in school (mental health distress) reach out for help if needed. Uplift Education has social and behavioral counselors on every campus that can help. 

Remember, as a parent, your support and calm demeanor are crucial in easing any first-day jitters your child may have. Trust in your preparations and embrace the excitement of this new educational adventure. 

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