Let’s face it. Even if kids are complaining about being bored during the summer, there is a good chance they are dreading going back to school. Even if they have the best teacher or if their best friend is in their class, kids still balk at the thought of going to bed earlier, getting up earlier, and sitting in school for hours. Parents find that taking kids clothes shopping and back-to-school supply shopping isn’t enough to get them excited about returning to school. So, what can you do? Here are a few tips for getting your kids excited about going back to school from guest blogger Joyce Wilson at TeacherSpark.org.
- Plan something memorable for their first day back
You can counter the anxiety that comes with the first day of school by planning something extra special for when your child comes home. You don’t have to go to any great lengths or expense, but you can plan something fun to commemorate the day and start a new family tradition for the start of school. Maybe you take your children for ice cream after dinner. Perhaps you greet them with a small family party, complete with balloons and streamers and cake. Some parents invite the class to an after-school swim party if the weather is warm. To make it even more exciting for your child, tell her you have a plan for something special to take place after school but don’t let her in on the secret so you can surprise her. She will look forward to the plan all day.
- Involve your children in back-to-school organization
Some kids get more excited about school when they feel as though they have some control over the situation. By involving them in back-to-school organization, you give your kids some power over the decisions that are made and give them the opportunity to take some ownership of their education. For example, you may allow your older children to rearrange their closets to accommodate their new clothing. Perhaps you give them the freedom to design a clothes organizer so they can lay out their clothing for the school week on Sunday night.
One other way to get your kids involved in back-to-school organization is to ask them to help design and create a family command center, lunch-packing station, or homework station. They can think about what they need to have in the home to help them better prepare for the school day and then get busy creating it with you. They may build the homework station, paint the stand for the command center, or clear out a spot in the pantry for school lunch supplies. Older kids may design the center and build it. It can be a whole-family affair.
- Discuss and choose extracurricular activities
While kids may not look forward to getting back to reading and math, they may look forward to the start of school because it brings about opportunities for sports, music, or other after-school activities. Older children have more choices, so it’s important to sit down with them and decide which extra-curricular activities they would like to participate in and which materials they need to have in order to do so. Younger children may get excited about an after-school program or study club with their friends. Encourage your kids to look at the whole picture of resuming school and help them find something they can look forward to besides getting back in the classroom.
- Plan a family trip to commemorate the first month of school
You can look beyond the first day of school to excite your kids about getting back in the classroom. For example, some families plan a small family trip to commemorate completing the first month of school. Take a weekend and visit a theme park or amusement park, attend the family activities at your Alma mater’s homecoming weekend, or visit a historical site that your kids are learning about in school. The possibilities are endless, and you can get your kids even more excited by including them in making the decision about where to go for the celebration. Just keep in mind that if you don’t choose a pet-friendly destination, you will need a dog walker or a pet sitter to care for your four-legged family members while you are gone.
Your kids may not be thrilled about going back to school, but you certainly can help get them excited in some fun and creative ways. Showing your kids that you are eager for them to get back in the classroom and enjoy school will help them feel less anxious and look forward to resuming their education.
Joyce Wilson is a retired teacher with decades of experience. Today, she is a proud Grandmom and mentor to teachers in her local public school system. She and a fellow retired teacher created TeacherSpark.org to share creative ideas and practical resources for the classroom.