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How SJ parents ease the back-to-school jitters

Ah, September. With mixed feelings for most of us, it’s time we close the book on summer and trade in the beach chairs and boardwalk for backpacks and back-to-school nights. For many, easing their child’s transition to a new academic year is a pretty big challenge. We asked SJ parents to share their tried-and-true techniques for getting the year off to a good start.

“Get it done and then have fun.” That’s a mantra I use as both a parent and a teacher. This helped a lot when my daughters had frustrating homework assignments. For the “have fun” part, rewards were really simple: watching an episode of a favorite cartoon or playing a card game. This way the kids associate getting work done with general good times instead of something material.

Paul Bartholomew, Audubon

I started a tradition of putting a note in my daugh­ter’s lunch box. Before she could read, I would draw pictures. As the years progressed, the notes turned into inspirational quotes: “You are braver than you believe. Stronger than you seem. Smarter than you think.” My daughter is now 43 and still remembers the notes.

Now she puts them into her daughter’s lunch box. 

Suzanne Winderman, Cherry Hill

I tell my kids to raise their hand and give new ex­periences a shot. You’ll never discover your own greatness without trying something for the first time. 

Benjamin Ovadia, Cherry Hill

We’ve turned back-to-school shopping into a ritual, and that has helped our daughters get past their jitters and look forward to a new year. Shopping together is also a good lesson in compromising.

Stephanie Fox, Voorhees

When the boys were younger, I’d take them to Barnes & Noble over summer break and help them choose a book related to the next grade. One of the most impactful books, which I always recommend, is “First Day Jitters.” This sweet, funny book really helped them transition to first grade in a new school.

Karen Cohen, Marlton

About three weeks before school starts, we start our school-year sleep routines: go to bed early, wake up early, lay out their clothes every night. We also pull out the yearbooks and look for their new teacher and friends they haven’t seen over the summer. My kids get so excited.

Drew Davis, Erial

Homework has been stressful in the past, but we’ve made big strides by scheduling time for it in the family calendar. I also feed them first, but dessert comes when  homework is complete.

Lauren Gehling, Cherry Hill.

My son is starting sixth grade in a new school district, so I signed him up for football. Practices started in early July, so he’ll already have friends and familiar faces when school starts. The same thing helped my daughter when she started high school in a new district. She had a summer of cheer practices to make new friends and get familiar with the school layout. 

Donna Allen, Galloway

About two weeks before school begins, I start dropping the bed time by 15 minutes each night.

Michelle Nussbaum, Merchantville

I start getting them excited about the idea of school one month ahead of time. They help choose their backpacks, lunch bags, school supplies, etc. My youngest daughter is starting kindergarten, and we took her shopping to pick out a desk. She’s been sitting at it daily and talking about school. My oldest daughter actually told me she’s looking forward to working on homework again!

Diane Felcyn, Barrington

About a week prior to school starting, I start loading up the “summer” chores and making the boys work for their supper, so to speak. Come the first day of school…they can’t wait to get away from me.

Stink Fisher, Collingswood

We plan our family vacation for the end of summer to make positive memories. We’ve been to Williamsburg, Va, southern California and Mexico, and this year we went to Cape Cod. Our photos are a wonderful reminder of the summer.

Debbie Feinstein, Cherry Hill

My son has autism and ADHD, and struggles with being organized. To help him, we always color coordinate his school supplies. He picks a color for each class, and we get a binder and matching folder. That way he has a visual reminder of the class, everything is in one spot, and it’s less for him to keep track of. Over the years, we have been consistent with the colors (science is green, math is blue, etc.) so it has become a habit for him. I also put his daily schedule on the front of each binder with all the classes in their corresponding colors.

Jen Arey, Mount Laurel

When my three kids were in elementary school, we’d visit their classrooms as soon as we knew their room/teacher assignment. We said hello to the new teacher, as well as the teacher from the previous year. I always felt these visits eased a lot of anxiety for my kids and, thankfully, the teachers were very open to it.

Sharon Clark, Mount Laurel

Getting our two boys (ages 12 and 14) back into a more consistent bedtime routine is always our biggest priority. In our family that means it’s back to a nighttime media embargo – as in no phones, iPads or computers in bedrooms from  about 11 pm to 6:30 am.

Stefan Dombrowski, Cherry Hill

September 2019
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