We asked Austin-area teachers to help us prepare for the upcoming school year. They offered advice for things to do before school begins:
Starting a new school? Check out when the transition camp might be. If you’ve missed it, call the school to see if there is another opportunity for you to walk the halls before school starts.
Read. Read as a family as well as read independently. Find books you love, but if they have a science or social studies-theme that can be helpful. If you know you’ll be studying U.S. history this school year, maybe find a fictional book based on an event in U.S. history. If you don’t love reading, consider putting the closed captioning on the TV and reading that.
Start putting the phones, tablets and video game systems away for longer periods of time. If you’ve been attached to electronics all summer long, time to break yourself of that habit.
Go on educational field trips. Check out the new downtown library. Go to the Thinkery or the Austin Nature & Science Center or the Science Mill.
Keep a journal. Write down what you did this summer before you forget. It can be an online journal or a physical one. Attach photos or drawings.
Rediscover math. Yes, we know you haven’t thought about math in two months, but try reviewing some math facts or find a math game to play. Kids can even test their parents to see if they know their times tables or how to subtract 25 from 57. Make it fun so it doesn’t feel like math. Do activities like make cookies to practice fractions.
Establish a routine again. If you haven’t been going to bed or getting up at school-time hours, start doing that again. It will help you not be as exhausted that first week — and when we say “you,” we mean both students and parents.
Check the school website’s calendar and announcements. That’s where schools will put up important information like Meet the Teacher, the plan for the first day, changes from last year and Back to School Night.
Attend the Meet the Teacher event as a family. It sets the tone that school is important and it lets teachers know that you’re active participants in it. You can even consider bringing the teacher flowers or another small acknowledgement.
Talk about the upcoming school year. Parents, be encouraging about what a great school year this is going to be. Build up how much fun your kids are going to have and some of the things they can look forward to. If kids have fears about the upcoming year, listen to them and help them plan how to deal with those scary things.
Go school supply shopping together. It helps get everyone excited. Even if kids share supplies with the rest of the class, a new backpack can be a fun find.
Reunite with school friends. It will help to build the excitement if you plan something fun with the friends you’ve been missing.
Sources: Inez Flores, Mills Elementary; Erica Green, Kiker Elementary; Juli Naranjo, Cowan Elementary; Beth Ann Cole, Boone Elementary; Lori Pearce, Fulmore Middle School; Nancy Stewart, Cedar Park Middle School; Katherine Ratcliffe, Kealing Middle School; Jo Patrick, Fulmore Middle School