School’s coming soon

With the beginning of the school year right around the corner, plenty of kids are feeling the dread of returning to the classroom.

Studies show students who aren’t ready to learn tend to do poorly in class, so how do you get your kids back into the school mindset in time for September?

“They don’t have the same habits as they did during the school year,” says psychologist Helen Rockman, of York Region Psychological Services. “They just don’t have as much routine, and building those good habits back up is important.”

And rebuilding those routines is key for helping your kids ease back into the classroom.

“About two to three weeks before school starts is good,” she says. “Let them choose some things, and ease them back into the routine of school.”

Rockman also recommends getting kids involved with making school lunches, buying school supplies and meeting new teachers.

She specifically cites homework as an important habit to rebuild with children in elementary school.

“Homework can’t be a question,” she says. “Sit down with your kids, and explain that. But, let them choose the time they do the homework. Let them help build the routine, and they’ll feel like they have some control.”

Keeping information fresh over the summer can be more of a time issue for parents.

“Ideally, it’s good to review the last bits of schoolwork they did before school starts,” she says. “But not everyone has the time.”

A recent study by the Ontario Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat found children from lower income homes could lose up to a month of literacy over the summer. The study suggests that falling behind is connected to lower marks in high school and dropping out.

For Remo Zucatti, a teacher at Michael Power-St. Joseph Secondary School in Etobicoke, the problem is not as apparent among high school students.

“For the most part, the kids come in here pumped and ready to go,” he says. “I rarely have to use disciplinary measures.”
Zucatti, who teaches English, points out that this differs for the maths and sciences.

“It’s harder for a kid to forget how to write a sentence than it is for them to forget an equation,” he says. “So reviewing that is definitely something important.”

But Rockman says parents shouldn’t decide the routines on their own. Getting your children’s input and letting them help decide can go a long way to helping them do well in school.

“As a child goes into a situation without much control, giving them some control helps a lot,” she says. “Control motivates kids to succeed. If they get to make choices about school, they are more likely to get involved.”