Back to school 2011-12
August 22, 2011
by Jenni Sebora

In a few weeks, more than 50 million students will be entering elementary, middle school, and high school doors throughout our nation.

Prior to the first day of school, about $7 billion will be spent on back-to-school clothes. Back packs, lunch bags, and school supplies will be purchased, packed, and prepped for the start of another school year for our children.

I have a son officially starting high school. He will be a freshman and is looking forward to many school-related functions, classes, and activities. Band, drum line, Knowledge Bowl, drama, social studies, and Spanish are at the top of his favorites list.

Our middle child, a daughter, is moving on to bigger and better worlds, as well – middle school. She is excited, and yet a little anxious and nervous about this. It means a bigger backpack with bigger books, different teachers, different classrooms, and passing time between classes. Mastering a lock for the hallway locker and gym locker, maneuvering the hallways among other high schoolers and middle schoolers, changing for gym class, and no recess are also among the changes that middle school brings.

But, according to my daughter and some of her friends, they are looking most forward to seeing their “long lost” friends, starting band, and the new experience of middle school.

In fact, just a few days ago, my daughter had a couple of her friends over for a mini band practice. My daughter has chosen the baritone as her choice of instrument and her friends’ instrument picks are tenor saxophone and trumpet. Those were some major sounds filling the living room. I enjoy it, and it is a pleasure to observe the excitement of new learning and new endeavors.

I also believe that our children are ready for the structure that a school day brings. That also means getting back into the appropriate bedtime routines, even for our older students. It is best not to wait until the night before the first day of school to begin this routine. Our bodies need to adapt to the new bedtime and wake-up times.

School is our children’s work. They need to be prepared each day for a productive day at “work.” This means getting the proper sleep and nutrition. Breakfast is an extremely important meal. Besides a good night’s sleep, a good breakfast fills our children’s physical and mental “tanks” and helps jump start their day of learning and engagement. A growling stomach is not what your child wants when she is trying to do her math problems at 9:30 in the morning. Drinking a glass of water when we get up ignites our brains for the day, as well.

When our family grocery shops together, we allow each of our three children to choose something for their breakfasts for the week. That helps ensure that they will eat before they take off for the busy day ahead. (Our oldest usually will choose fruit, wild berry Toaster Strudels and/or some type of cold cereal. He likes to have fruit in his cereal. Our middle child has now found a new love – cinnamon Toaster Strudels. She also enjoys yogurt and cottage cheese, or some type of cold cereal. Oatmeal and toast are at the top of our youngest child’s favorite breakfast items.)

It is important that we help prepare our children for the start of school in advance of the night before school starts. We want them to be ready emotionally, mentally, and physically.

It is also important to keep the modes of communication open as they start this process. Children can experience many emotions about school starting, and we want to help them work through these mixed feelings of anxiety and excitement. Listening to them is the key.

Help your children enjoy the rest of summer, but also begin the “back-to-school” process with them.