by Rebecca Gieselmann
The countdown is officially on! With five days left before the start of school, we asked CMDS Guidance Counselor Rebecca Gieselmann to share with us her top 10 list of things parents can do to get their kids set up for a successful school year.
Have your child set at least one or two achievable goals.
“I think the goals could be related to making a new friend or being kind to someone who maybe isn’t always included,” Gieselmann said. “Even an academic goal, to bring a certain grade up or try to achieve honor roll. Or to do an extra curricular activity they haven’t done before. The objective is to get your children to challenge themselves a little bit.”
Get ready for schoolwork.
“Make sure the summer reading is done, and the summer math packet is done. And also go over the work with them to make sure they’re confident in what they’ve accomplished so there’s not a lot of anxiety the week before school starts. I do think that really reduces anxiety, making sure they got all that finished – and not just the night before – so they can come in confident.”
Reach out to new students.
“You can review the class list and see if there are any new students in your child’s homeroom. And maybe you can help your child come up with a plan for how they’re going to introduce themselves and help that new student through the first day or the first week. It’s a hard thing to do, to come into a new school. They’re coming into a new place, and many of the children around them are excited to see their own friends. So just encourage your child to be cognizant and aware of somebody being by themselves.”
Re-establish a solid bedtime routine.
Gieselmann recommends working it backwards, even just a little bit. “In our house we’ve gone from 9 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. this week,” she said. “ So start inching it back to get them a little more rested and a little more used to an earlier bedtime.”
Get connected with other parents.
“You could do that through the PA or upcoming CMDS events or even scheduling play dates for your children. It is important. Raising kids is hard, so it helps to have the support of a network of parents and other families you know who are going through it. And when you spend time with other parents, you get to know them, which you will appreciate as your children get older and more independent.”
Plan for a healthy breakfast.
“We talk about this with our students a lot. Protein in the morning is very important to set a solid foundation for the day. Eggs, turkey bacon, peanut butter, fruit, even cream cheese and a bagel. Just something to get them a good base.”
Clean out the clothes.
“You may have a closet full of old uniforms, or play clothes if your children aren’t in uniforms yet. It’s important to go through those, try them on and take out what doesn’t fit. If your child can get herself dressed in the morning, it will help her be more independent. You might find many kids are excited to try their uniforms on! And be sure to pass on those clothes that no longer fit your children to someone else. This step also ensures your kids have what they need, so they feel confident on the first day of school. “
Have everything organized.
“Even though many parents order school supplies online, I think it’s good for kids to pick out something, maybe a backpack, lunch box or water bottle. It just switches their mindset a little bit so they are more aware that transition is coming. Make sure they know that all of their supplies will be at their desk waiting on them. This can reduce anxiety for kids who may wonder if they’ll have what they need.”
Meet the teacher.
“If your child seems a little nervous about a new teacher, don’t forget they can come meet their teacher and see their classroom Friday. This can allay any worries. And if you can’t be there because of previous commitments, talk to your child about your teacher. You can even pull up the website and show him a picture.”
“Set some time aside in the evening to pray with your child. Pray for their classmates, teachers, grade level and even the school community as a whole. Knowing God is in control of CMDS and everything that happens here – and praying on that truth – can ease a lot of back-to-school jitters for everyone.”
Gieselmann joined CMDS as Guidance Counselor in 2006. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Crichton College and a Master’s in School Counseling from the University of Memphis. She is a mother of three, one CMDS alum and two current students.