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Back-to-School Tips From the Pros
We tracked down teachers, tutors, dieticians, and more to find out their advice for starting off the school year on the right foot. Read on for tips on everything from study skills to healthy-eating habits to college admissions. By Abby Holekamp, MJ Lee
Comments () | Published August 13, 2009
Back to School Guide

Tips From the Pros
Greening Your Back-to-School Shopping List
What to Do After School
Back to School 2.0: Gadgets for Students
Great First Day Clothes for Girls
Great First Day Clothes for Boys
Spicing Up Brown Bag Lunches
Getting In To Top Colleges

Norback with her students.

Amy Norback 
First-grade teacher at Truesdell Education Center

Develop a homework routine.

Norback notes that children tend to respond well to routines. “It’s beneficial to establish a homework routine early on in the school year,” she says. “For example, give them a break and snack after school and have homework time until dinner. Don’t wait until the end of the night to start. Make sure that they have a quiet space with all of the supplies they need so they can focus.”

Busy parents can still be involved.
“Even if your schedule doesn’t allow you to supervise your child while they’re doing homework, have a system in place so that you can still go over their work,” Norback says. For example, she suggests having your child leave his or her homework out before bedtime, so even if you get home late, you can still look it over. Also, if your work schedule doesn’t allow you to volunteer actively at school as a chaperone, see if there are other ways for you to contribute—this can be as simple as sending in school supplies that the teacher might need.

Communicate with the teacher.

At the beginning of the school year, find out which form of communication works best, Norback says: “Know the most convenient way to reach the teacher, whether it’s by e-mail or phone, and be in contact about any concerns you have.”

Keep your child involved.
Norback says that participating in extracurricular activities will make your child feel like he or she is a part of the school community. “But depending on their age, be careful not to overwhelm them with too many things at once,” she says. “Try to get your child involved in a mix of physical and mental activities.”

• • • • • • •

Dr. Michael Oberschneider
Dr. Michael Oberschneider
Founder and director of Ashburn Psychological Services

Prepare your child for the return to a structured schedule.
The end of summer means a transition to a more regimented routine, says Oberschneider: “Going back to school brings back demands and expectations that were absent during the summer, which can be overwhelming for some kids.” He recommends explaining your expectations to your kids ahead of time to help them ease back into a regular schedule.

Reward your child for good work.
Oberschneider notes that rewards can be a great motivator. “If your child does everything that’s expected of them, give them a reward,” he says. “Instead of focusing on the negative, bring the focus to what they’re doing well.”

Boost your child’s self-esteem.

Children between the ages of 10 and 13 are going through many changes. “This is not only a time when a kid’s body changes, but also when he or she is developing a sense of self,” Oberschneider says. He suggests encouraging your child to be involved in social activities such as organized team sports and after-school activities, which he says can prevent children from retreating into themselves.

Divorce or separation requires that parents be extra-sensitive.
Children and teens whose parents are going through divorce or separation need to feel supported by both parents as much as possible. “I often tell parents to try put their own grievances aside for a while and focus on supporting their child,” Oberschneider says. If a child is having severe adjustment problems, it’s best that he or she speak to a counselor.

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 08/13/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Articles