Many people look back on their time in elementary school with fondness. Recalling pleasant experiences such as playing with friends on the playground, being good at tetherball, or chatting and laughing on the monkey bars.
Some tips to help ensure your kids have a safe, happy, and productive year before heading back to school are to ensure they get enough sleep, have a healthy breakfast, and pack healthy snacks.
Make the First Day Easier
Schools are open to addressing any concerns a parent or child might have, including the specific needs of a child, over the summer. The best time to get help might be one to two weeks before school opens.
If your child is apprehensive about starting at a new school, changing classrooms, or meeting a new teacher, it can be helpful to walk them through what to expect beforehand. Take them on a tour of the new school or visit the new classroom so they can get familiar with the layout and what it will be like on the first day. It’s perfectly normal for children to feel some nerves in new situations, and the staff will be understanding and accommodating. If your child is still struggling after taking some proactive steps, talk to them about their specific concerns and help them develop a plan to face the challenge.
Some positive aspects of starting school are that kids will see old friends and meet new ones.
Find a child in the neighborhood for your child to walk to school or ride the bus with.
If your child is starting at a new school, try to attend any available orientations and take a tour of the school before the first day. Bring your child to school a few days before classes start so they can play on the playground and get used to the new environment.
To reduce stress on the first day of school, consider driving your child to school or walking with them. Getting there early can also help.
To ease your child into the school year, try setting their sleep and wake times to match the school schedule a week or so in advance. That way, the time change won’t affect their performance during the first few days.
Pick a backpack that has wide straps that are padded and a padded back.
You should organize your child’s backpack so that all of its compartments are used. Heavier items should be packed closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10% to 20% of your child’s body weight. You and your child should go through the pack together weekly, and remove any unneeded items to keep it light.
Make sure your child is using both shoulder straps on their backpack to avoid straining muscles.
Put the backpack on your child and adjust the straps so that the bottom of the backpack sits at your child’s waist.
If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried upstairs, they may be difficult to roll in the snow, and they may not fit in some lockers. So review backpack safety with your child.
Bullying refers to repeated instances of harassment or intimidation by one individual towards another. It can take various forms, such as physical, verbal, or social. It can occur in different contexts, such as at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, or online. It may also involve the use of mobile devices, such as cell phones.
When Your Child Is Bullied
- Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
- Teach your child to be comfortable with when and how to ask a trusted adult for help. Ask them to identify who they can ask for help.
- Recognize the serious nature of bullying and acknowledge your child’s feelings about being bullied.
- Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to:
- Look the bully in the eye.
- Stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation.
- Walk away.
- Teach your child how to say in a firm voice.
- “I don’t like what you are doing.”
- “Please do NOT talk to me like that.”
- Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
- Support outside activities that interest your child.
- 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.
When 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.
- Help your child learn empathy for other children by asking them to consider how the other child feels about the way your child treated them. Ask your child how they would feel if someone bullied them.
- Be a positive role mode. Show children, that they can get what they want without teasing, threatening, or hurting someone.
- Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges.
- Focus on praising your child when they behave in positive ways such as helping or being kind to other children as opposed to bullying them.
Work with the school principal, teachers, school social workers or psychologists, and parents of the children your child has bullied to come up with practical solutions.
When Your Child Is a Bystander
Make sure your child knows that it is important to tell a trusted adult about the bullying, and that joining with others in telling the bullies to stop is also effective.
You can help your child stand up to bullying by encouraging them to include other children who may be bullied in their activities.
Tips for Making Learning Fun and Engaging For Children
To keep your students engaged and motivated, try adding some variety to their learning experiences. Here are ten ways you can make education more exciting for your students:
Break up Your Lessons
Many lessons involve lectures, especially when you’re introducing a new topic. But you can’t expect young kids to stay engaged as they sit still listening to you talk. Breaking up your lesson with activities or videos keeps your students interested.
Try to vary your activities and how you teach every day to help kids pay attention to the material. Even a 30-second break every six minutes or so will do wonders. Learning in new ways and doing novel things can help kids stay engaged.
Give Your Students Choices
Letting kids choose the activity that goes along with your lesson or what homework assignment they will work on that night will make lessons more fun while also instilling them with decision-making skills.
Games are an excellent way to make your lesson plan more engaging. They can make learning more fun, from review time to memorization drills. You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money preparing for games, as there are thousands of free educational games online. Students will look forward to days when they can review and other lessons with gamified elements.
Create Group Time
When students work together, they remember information better and for a longer time. Working together also helps them develop critical thinking and communication skills. Having students work in groups breaks up the same routine, making learning and your lesson more enjoyable.
Here are a few tips to make sure group time is productive.
- Keep it short: Cap group time at five minutes to keep students focused on the task they need to accomplish. Once time runs out, call students back to discuss their takeaways and answer any questions they may have.
- Assign roles: Give each student a role within their group. Students will know what to expect when group work begins, so they’ll be able to focus easier.
- Provide sentence starters: Jumping into a group conversation with classmates can sometimes be awkward or intimidating. By providing the start of a sentence related to the topic, you’ll give students a jumping-off point to get the discussion started right away.
Get Up and Move
Many elementary school kids find it difficult to sit still for extended periods of time. Your children deserve a break, and so do you. It would be beneficial to get up and move around.
If your children are struggling, give them a break or incorporate movement into your lesson to make it more fun and engaging. These breaks are a great way to give your students a quick two minutes of downtime.
You could also try teaching methods that incorporate movement in order to encourage kids to be more active.Here are some effective methods that have been known to work.
Walking and Talking
In this method, students work in pairs and discuss the topic while moving around the classroom. This combination of group work and movement creates an engaging setting for discussion.
Each student should spend a few minutes at each station so that they can engage with the topic from multiple angles.
If you want your kids to stay engaged, make sure you offer them opportunities to move around. They’ll have more fun if they know that there are mini-breaks coming up.
Incorporate Hands-On Learning
Teachers often use hands-on activities to make lessons more fun and interesting. These activities can be used for a variety of subjects, including preschool alphabet lessons, math, English, and geography.
Hands-on learning, where students are actively engaged in the material, is more effective than traditional lectures. Students gain a deeper understanding when they are producing original insights and are able to get direct feedback from instructors.
A project that involves students taking action is more meaningful to them and they are more likely to remember the lesson.
Be Open to Creativity
Teaching from the same lesson plans year after year can be easy, but it may not be the best way to keep your students engaged. Each year, you have a new group of students with different interests. Adding some variety and creativity to your lessons is the best way to make sure learning is still fun for them.
You should allow your students to be creative and come up with their own ideas for assignments and projects. If they want to make changes to something, as long as it doesn’t affect the overall lesson, you should let them. This way, the students will take more ownership over their work and be more confident in their abilities.
Let students lead the conversation. This can help them focus and gain confidence. The method works best for humanities and language classes, but can also be used for math and science.