The new school year is fast approaching, if not already in full swing for some students. It can be tricky getting back in the groove of school after having been on summer vacation for so long. Making smooth transitions both at home and in the classroom can lessen the stress of all the new routines and schedules happening, which we all need during this crazy time of year. Here are some tips for making the start of this school year the most successful one yet!
Routine, Routine, Routine!
I cannot stress enough how important a steady routine is—especially when beginning a new year. Having a schedule that kids can depend on both at home and in the classroom helps them to feel secure and aware of what their day will look like. Students will come to count on the consistency of their routine and it is also helpful for parents and teachers because it sets the bar for what is expected from students on a daily basis. I find it helpful for both myself and for the children I work with to keep the schedule posted on a wall, using words and images so even young children can understand the daily grind. A routine is valuable for everyone and starting one the first day will support a smooth transition into the year.
Using a Planner
Planners are an amazing tool for keeping organized and are great for kids and adults. I have used a planner since I was a student and now as a teacher I take it everywhere with me as well. It helps me remember important events, due dates, appointments and anything else that comes up in my day-to-day activities. Planners can also be educational tools for students. Help students create their own or find a decorative one at the store that fits their personality so it feels like their own—a planner can also dually serve as a journal. It is a place to store anything that needs to be remembered such as homework assignments or due dates of projects—and it can help hold students accountable for their work.
Requiring students to reflect on their learning is a purposeful method for tracking their growth and development throughout the school year. Having students consider what they have learned each week, the positives and negatives of the week, and their individual goals for the upcoming week are all ways to promote thoughtful insight about learning. Imprints Press has created a Weekly Wind Down worksheet that can be used for students of all ages to reflect on their progress. Click on the image below to head to our free resources page and grab your copy.
Breaks & Attention Grabbers
Some advice that I have received from other elementary teachers is to make learning as interesting and engaging as possible and plan for regular and frequent breaks throughout the day. This keeps kids interested and absorbed in each lesson, which makes for effective and meaningful learning. The key is to know the curiosities of the class and implement them into lessons whenever possible.
As far as breaks, what students need varies depending on the individual, but short brain breaks have been proven to be an effective way to enhance learning. Many educators use GoNoodle in their classroom, which is a great way to get students up and moving in a silly and amusing way. Alternatively there is a site called Mind Yeti, which is great if the goal is to keep students calm during the break. Other ideas such as a brief walk outside, stretching, or an interactive game can be beneficial for improving student behavior and attention throughout classroom instruction.
Organization is always important but especially in the classroom and at home with busy kiddos! Here are a few organizational tips to help make the school year run smoothly:
Have a designated area for homework. Set up a neat and clean space for the kids to study and complete assignments at. It should be a quiet, comfortable place that has necessary homework materials such as pencils, paper, and calculators available for use.
Leave backpacks and everyday school materials (coats, shoes, keys, etc.) in a specific area each day so that they are easily accessible during the busy mornings.
Get closets sorted so school outfits can be picked out easily in the morning. This can be done by sorting shirts, pants, and socks so they are reachable for the kids. To make even less of a hassle in the a.m., have your kids pick out an outfit the night before. The less to do in the morning the better!
Create an easy lunch procedure such as making all lunches Sunday night so that they are ready for the week. This can be a huge time saver during the week and can also promote healthier eating.
Keep calendars up to date and regularly check them to stay on top of deadlines. Put the calendar in a place that is viewable for all family members—or try out Google Calendars for a more accessible system!
The start of the school year can be stressful and even dreadful, but it doesn’t have to be! It can be an exciting time to send kids off to a new year of experiences and learning. Set routines and get organized and the rest will fall into place. Have a great new school year!