Summer, the time for carefree hours spent engaging in enjoyable activities, exploring the limits of imagination and creativity with ample time for rest and relaxation is coming to an end.   Judging by the photographs I see posted on social media, I gather that children throughout world are headed back to school these days after an extended time away. My own children will commence their new school year a week from tomorrow, giving us a few more days to finish back to school shopping, get haircuts and otherwise prepare to settle into yet a new routine.

Looking back over the weeks of summer will undoubtedly offer the opportunity to reminisce over fun memories from good times spent on a variety of activities. Some parents however, may face the beginning of school with a few regrets of good intentions that somehow slipped through the cracks of scheduling throughout the summer. There are books that were never read, math that was not reviewed and practiced, museums left unvisited and poor sleeping and eating habits that may have developed could cause misgivings about reaching academic goals going forward.

To the parents who thought they would do more, the parents who had intended to have their children begin the school year better prepared, I have this to say: do not worry.   There are many things parents can do at the start of the school year that will help children be successful in school.

1.   Establish a set bedtime routine in order to ensure that your child gets enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can impact concentration, attention and learning. Sleep is an important and necessary component for learning, understanding and retention of new knowledge. Learn more about sleep and how much sleep your child should have here and here.

2.   Schedule time for family meals and conversations. Research shows that children who are academically successful spend time talking with their families every day about events and people who are important to them as well as current events and issues on a local, national and global level. Conversations such as these are more likely to occur and involve a variety of perspectives and topics when the entire family sits together to eat on a regular basis.

3.  Avoid overscheduling your child. Limit the extra-curricular activities in order to leave room for interaction with family, free time and time for homework and rest without impacting sleep.

4.  Intentionally teach organizational and time management skills. Provide assistance and supervision in maintaining the organization, while gradually pulling back and allowing your child to take control of organizing and learning independently.

5.  Read every day for fun. If your child is under the age of 10, read aloud together every day. Continue reading aloud if your child still enjoys it, but make sure to cultivate the habit of daily reading and model the value and pleasure found in reading.

We all want our children to achieve success in school. Implementing these five tips into your family’s routines can make a significant difference in your child’s learning experience.