Back to School Ideas: Tips for Getting Kids Excited about the Season!

By: Susan Ragsdale

When I was little, going back to school consisted of 4 basic factors:

  • Readjusting to the school bed time/get up schedule (getting back in the routine)
  • Eating breakfast
  • Getting “school ready” (academically): notebooks, pencils, crayons or in later years, calculators, backpacks and making sure summer readings and assignments were completed
  • and,

  • Getting “school ready” (physically): new haircut, a few new outfits for the back-to-school wardrobe and good tennis shoes
  • That was it. As I think about readying for school (as an adult), I realize my parents had it fairly easy. I loved school. I looked forward to it--to friends, to certain subjects, and to teachers who opened up doors to magical places of adventures and excitement. As a child, I loved words, stories, and learning by games, which to me was a chance to compete, be fast, and master something! My parents didn’t have to work hard to get me excited about going to school, but most parents aren't fortunate enough to have this problem ;)

    As I think of what contributed to my own self-motivation and how my parents fed into my excitement, I can identify 3 things.

    1. I always imagined the good. As the school start got closer, I began to imagine the friends and teachers I was looking forward to seeing and favorite subjects I would be taking.

    Tip --> You can help your children “imagine the good” at the dinner table. Ask them to recall favorite memories from last year. Look at the yearbook or photos of fun moments. Talk about teachers they had. Ask about which other classmates that are looking forward to seeing the most.

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    Tip -->Invite one to three of your child's special friends over for a play date. Help them reconnect before the first day of school while also taking advantage of the opportunity of getting to know your child’s favorite friends. Host a back-to-school bash for the neighborhood – make it a Popsicle party to keep it inexpensive and fun.

    2. I found ways to evoke excitement. For me, the new year always held a hint of promise: new things to learn, new people to meet, new things to try – clubs, sports or pursuits I was interested in.

    Tip --> Take your children to the school playground to play. Create a fun moment while also building a subtle bonding to school vibe. Start playing school games together at home like hopscotch, 4 square or jump rope games. This will help them hone skills, and at the same time prepare them for the “language” of jump rope rhymes and schoolyard play so they feel confident and ready to play with friends.

    For older youth, squaring away basketball skills or running sprints can serve the same idea of giving a head start. How good it feels to come into the year ready and ahead of the game instead of behind!

    3. I always loved to stir my curiosity and challenge myself.

    Tip:--> Ask your child: "What classes are you excited about?" "What do you want to learn more about?" "What do you want to discover?" " What are you looking forward to?" And when they say, “I don’t know,” push and keep pushing: “Think about it. You can come up with something.”

    Tip --> When picking up required books to read, why not add a "fun" book, one they want to read on their own, as well (like a comic book, magazine, or graphic novel) to your shopping cart? Encourage healthy things that they are curious about and want to explore.

    Tip --> Set a fun goal to go along with school goals. It’s easy to set academic goals (for every A you make, you’ll get 50¢), but what about goals of their own choosing that challenge them to master a skill or learn something new? A personal best perhaps? Or maybe it’s simply a fun goal that comes as a result of accomplishing something at school: if you do X, Y, Z at school, we’ll celebrate by doing B (something they want to do).

    Brain research tells us that novelty and challenge are two of the things the brain needs to thrive. Exercise those brain muscles by playing games and being active at home. Here’s a small list of some different ways you can help activate brain cells:

    What do you do to get your children geared up and excited about going to school?

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    More Resources:

    To learn more about feeding the brain and what it needs to work at its best, check out these articles:

  • Nurturing the Mind
  • Strengthening the Brain
  • "12 Brain Rules" at Brainrules.net
  • [Photo credit: bitjungle on Flick'r.]

    These are all excellent ideas. I love “imagine the good” and the one about connecting with a few friends before school starts.

    For a related article, “Helping Your Child Cope with School Transitions,” click below:
    http://www.kellybear.com/ParentTips/ParentTip8.html

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