14 Jul What Does Back-to-School Preparation Mean for Your Family this Summer and Fall?
Back-to-school preparation means something different for each family, but it’s more than catching the best school supplies on sale. The first day of school varies from late July through early September. So some parents might be closer to the first day of school than others. Whether helping kids sign up for extra-curricular activities, keeping them engaged in learning, or hitting those sales…preparing for back-to-school can be stressful.
Fun Education fact: Did you know that 34.0 million attended prekindergarten to grade 8 in the fall of 2021? That’s a lot of school supplies!
Deadlines for Extracurricular Activities can Sneak Up on Parents
Whether your child does school or non-school sports, arts-related activities, or academic-oriented clubs, be sure to find out the signup deadlines. Also clarify the fees and gear/supplies needed. To earn parental extra credit and a gold star: mark the extra curriculars details on your calendar after sign ups.
For the best after-school activities “fit,” parents need to stay alert; be sure to listen to your child. A friend’s daughter had been enjoying two different types of dance classes, from age 2 to 9. Now, she only wants to do one. My friend listened and found that for the first time, her daughter was falling behind in one type of dance; she was no longer the best. Now that my friend knows these details, she can help her daughter navigate and make the best choices. She said she was so glad she asked why in a gentle way that got her daughter to open up.
Navigating the nuances of after-school activities: Some children hang back from a certain activity because they truly don’t like it. Sometimes, they are just fearful of the unknown, or don’t get along with another child in that program. Other times parental preferences, wanting a child to do the same activity or sport that they did, may put pressure on a child. Parents can also encourage children to try something new, allowing them to quit if it is not a fit; but be aware of upfront fees/gear. Also, be alert for the overachiever – a child who wants to do everything; this may lead to burnout and lack of good grades. Listening and finding balance are the keys here.
Activities Facts: Extra-curricular activities can help children build motor, spatial, and social skills that can help with their schoolwork. Did you know that music and languages help kids be better at math? As kids get older, extracurriculars can be important for getting into the right high school, not just into college.
Some signups for after school activities are seasonal, or not available in fall, but that varies across the country.
- Sports (individual and team):
- Soccer, track and field, flag football, lacrosse, ice hockey, field hockey, volleyball (girl’s), tennis, cheer leading, swim team, water polo (boy’s), golf, marital arts.
- The Arts:
- Dance, theater/drama club, music (band, music lessons, choir/chorus), and hobbies like arts classes or wood working at local arts centers.
- Clubs both Social and Academic:
- Scouting and student council/government. Competitive academic clubs: math, robotics, spelling bee, scrabble, coding, or chess. Older kids can try the debate team, or volunteering with community organizations.
Back-to-School Supplies Start with Taking Inventory
Before impulse buying at back-to-school sales like I have; consider taking an inventory. Review student homework areas, find* and list the gear and supplies left from last year. Decide what can be reused or handed down. Do you have left over 3-ring binders, paper, or pencils that may just need to be topped up? This way, you can buy some items at back-to-school sales. My secret is to pick up the rest of the school supplies at the AFTER back-to-school sales – when things like notebooks, paper and pens often go further on sale. Don’t rely on this for important items as they might be out of stock.
*Family Activity Scavenger Hunt: During summer, school supplies might have migrated away from the homework area. How many times have you ordered a new school item, to find the old one afterwards. For a little fun, try a family school supplies scavenger hunt. Send everyone out armed with a reusable shopping bag or basket to gather up all the school supplies they see around the house; and the school-related trash too! Whomever finds the most important missing item gets $5 extra on their school supplies list, and the most school items found gets to pick the pizza toppings that night. Then throw away or recycle the trash. Take things that your family has outgrown, to Good Will. Once you’ve taken inventory, build your shopping list, and hit the back-to-school sales really prepared.
Help Kids Get Back into the Swing of Learning with Summer Camps & Classes for Math, Reading & Writing
The summer slide is real; children lose learning during season. Especially for those kids whose early elementary school was interrupted by the pandemic; this loss can be even greater for those ages. According to the study cited below**, math scores showed the largest drop in 50 years. For a teacher-led summer education program, as kids gear up for fall, and a more structured way to keep summer learning high, look to places like an ALOHA Center near you. ALOHA Mind Math’s summer camp classes for elementary school children are geared to meet your child’s needs from ages 3 to 12. Our teachers adapt to the high achiever, and to the student who is struggling. ALOHA also offers reading and writing programs for children as well.
Fun Education Fact: In the school year 2020–21, there were 3.0 million teachers in public schools, plus another 0.5 million teachers in private schools. This figure doesn’t include after-school classes like ALOHA.
Did you Know that Kids who Choose their Own Books are Shown to Read More
Many parents have made multiple library trips this summer. Another study*** showed that 14% of students reported reading for fun almost every day. The study also reported that 31% of students stated that they hardly ever read for fun. The key: the average reading scores for those who said they read for fun almost every day was higher. While this makes sense, it can give parents an incentive to be creative in finding ways to get their kids into reading. Exploring the books your child has read for pleasure and finding more of the same type or by the same/similar authors can be a start. Setting an example by reading yourself. And engaging a child in conversation about what they are interested in, what fascinates them, then steering him/her to that area of the library, or finding kids magazines, comic books… whatever way into reading that a parent can find is valuable.
Back-to-School Preparation Wrap Up:
According to several articles, newly released scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP – also called the nation’s “report card”), show a decline by 4 points in reading and 9 points in math when compared with the same scores from three years ago, before the onset of the pandemic.** And a sharper decline when posted against scores from 10 years ago. The decreases were recorded across the US and across all school types: rural, suburban and city. So, whatever you can do to help your student finish out the summer with strong learning, the right gear for school, and by helping them get involved in after-school activities, will help them get a solid start to this next school year.
Written by Cathy Larkin, a freelance writer and social media coordinator, who has been a part of the ALOHA Mind Math team for several years.