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After months of uncertainty, it’s now official: most B.C. students will be going back to the classroom in September. Parents are divided about this announcement, with half of them undecided about whether they’ll send their kids back to class. Regardless of which format parents choose, it’s time to help prepare kids for the transition back to school.
Guest expert, Lisa Kaul, Senior Vice President from Kumon Canada, has suggested the top four tips for getting children on the right track and feeling ready for the school year ahead.
Bring back routine
Since kids have been out of “regular” school for many months now: routine may have been elusive during online schooling, and this summer may have had fewer structured activities than usual. Re-establishing a daily routine should be a top priority.
If you’ve taken a break from learning over the summer, getting your kids back into the habit of doing academic activities when they might normally do homework will help ease the transition back to a homework routine. As little as 30 minutes per day is effective. Try reading or paper and pencil activities that get children away from screens. Many studies have proven that physically writing engages students in their work, helps them commit learning to long term memory as well as aids them in developing independent learning skills
Don’t forget to make sure your children are getting a good night’s sleep too; this will ensure they are better prepared for their school schedule and ready to learn.
Set up a designated space for learning
Our homes have been serving as workspaces and classrooms, blurring the boundary between school and home. This can make it hard for kids to unwind at the end of the day, or to mentally set up for homework. Setting up a designated space for learning and homework goes hand in hand with establishing a homework routine. It also means when they step into that space with their schoolwork, it’s time for them to buckle down….and that when they’re finished the work they need to get done, they can put everything aside and relax.
Establish your role
Parents had to put on a teacher’s hat and take a very hands-on approach when it came to online schooling at the end of last school year. Now, with students going back to school, take some time to consider what your role will be.
Ideally, parental support with homework should be more about setting children up to do their homework successfully than helping with (or doing) the work themselves; this way students can become more independent and take ownership of their work. However, getting children to a place where they can work independently doesn’t happen overnight and may take patience.
Whether it’s helping your child get started, understanding what is being asked, or a question about the work itself, try to put yourself in a coaching role, keeping your child as the main player and owner of the process. Try to ask questions rather than provide answers.
In Kumon, we always aim for what we call the “Just Right Level” – where the work can be completed independently. If your child is consistently struggling with homework, it may be that the work is too difficult, and you’ll want to involve the teacher.
Calm the nerves
By the time children return to school in September, it’ll be over six months since they were last at school. It’s not only about helping them prepare physically for learning, but also mentally. Talk about how they feel about returning to school and answer any questions they have. Be sure to emphasize the positive things such as their favourite lessons or socializing with friends. Go shopping for new school supplies, clothes, or a backpack as a way to start getting them excited.
This school year will be unlike any other, but kids will always have opportunities to learn, grow, play, and have fun.
Lisa Kaul has over 27 years of experience in education working with Kumon since 1992 where she is currently the Senior Vice President. Kumon can help take the pressure off of parents by providing worksheets, 30-minute assignments for each day covering English and math. To learn more about the Kumon Math and Reading Program, visit KUMON.com
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