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Families should start now to help ease the transition from summer to the school year By Keishon Thomas

Summer break is almost over. That’s right — no more late nights, naps during the day and, my favorite, living without a schedule. While I hate to remind you that our time will no longer be our own, I hope to make it easier for parents, as well as teachers, to return to their respective routines, which includes getting children back to school.

As parents, we are instrumental in our children’s educational success. There are some things we can do to prepare little ones for success in the classroom.

Establish a routine early. Begin earlier bed- and wake-up times one week prior to returning to school. It may be tempting to let them hang out until they drop and then sleep late the following day, but it will also be more difficult for them to go to bed and get up when they do have to adhere to a schedule.

Budget educational time. My second-grader must read and complete worksheets daily. I have also added educational apps to his tablet. I have found the absence of anything educational for two months makes the transition back to school more difficult.

Maintaining educational time for middle schoolers is a tad more difficult, but it is possible. My daughter must practice her instrument, and she is working on poster ideas for the upcoming 4-H Demonstration Project Achievement. For my high schooler, I impress upon him the importance of good grades (he has two years left in high school), upcoming projects, tests and milestone achievements. It also helps that college football will return soon — I use that to try to captivate his interest in college and discuss his future plans as well.

If structured educational activities haven’t been part of your schedule, try to add a few to the last weeks of summer vacation to ease the transition.

Wake up early on the big day. No matter how well you plan, something will go awry. Waking the children up earlier will leave time for that lost belt, slow start or just to work out the excitement of returning to school. It will also leave you less stressed when something doesn’t go as planned.

Eat a good breakfast. No one knows better than me how difficult it is to get children to their designated place at the right time. Skipping breakfast to save time is not the answer. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make sure your child has a balanced meal before going to school. According to research by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Children that have eaten a nutritious breakfast have energy, improved concentration and better grades.” I have found that preparing food the night before really helps.

Provide the pep talk. A pep talk can include the rules of engagement in the classroom. My aunt always reminded me to listen to the teacher, keep my hands to myself, complete my work and avoid talking in class. Remind your children of these same things. You may sound like a broken record, but children are not little adults and they require reminders. Your child’s teacher will thank you.

Make homework a priority. Going back to school will bring with it the return of homework. Identify expectations regarding homework. In my home, homework must be completed prior to any extracurricular activities. It is also a good idea to take inventory of school supplies. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard “I couldn’t find a pencil or a sharpener” as an excuse for not completing homework.

From one excited parent to another, good luck as we tackle the first nine weeks of the 2017-2018 school year.

(Keishon Thomas is the University of Georgia Extension family and consumer sciences agent in Bibb County.)

School buses
School buses

Where did summer go? Georgia families are already planning for the start of the new school year.

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Where did summer go? Georgia families are already planning for the start of the new school year. Download Image
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