GUEST VIEW: Students needs rest, routine and reading

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:03 am on Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Threshold Principal | Victoria Simon

When you hear, “back to school” do you envision dollar signs streaming out of your wallet? Does the excited shine in your child’s eye as they anticipate the day after Labor Day mean shopping for school clothes, paying sports team fees, purchasing school supplies, fundraisers for activities and buying shoes, shoes and more shoes? It makes you wonder how you can afford groceries and gas this month.

Some parents and their children love shopping for school clothes and supplies. The shiny yellow No. 2 pencils and the clean notebooks waiting to be filled with ideas call out to them from the aisles of discount stores. The fashionable clothing displayed throughout the mall is exciting. But what does being prepared for school really mean?

Back to school time should mean preparing your child to succeed in learning. After all, you are sending them to school to learn so they can succeed in furthering their education, having a career, being a parent and as a citizen. How can you help prepare your child for school?

The three R’s of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic require three R’s of preparation — rest, routine and reading.

• Rest: It cannot be emphasized enough how important proper sleep is for a child to be able to learn and behave in school. Our brains require sleep for learning. Elementary age children need 10 to 11 hours of sleep and teenagers need about nine hours of sleep nightly. Today is the day to start making sure your child is getting enough sleep at night. All parents know the challenging behavior of children who are exhausted. Sending your tired child to school to be in a classroom of 25 other children is risking the mental health of the classroom teacher! In all seriousness, lack of sleep causes irritability, hyperactivity, depression, impatience, mood swings, low self-confidence, low tolerance for frustration or other impulse control problems. All of these make learning and behaving difficult.

• Routine: Now is the time to start establishing your school year daily routine or schedule. The single most difficult adjustment for children after summer is switching from an unstructured day to bells ringing every 47 minutes and complete compliance and cooperation in a group setting. What time will your child be going to bed during the school year? Waking up? Start with those times then build a daily routine around that. How long does it take your child to get ready in the morning? Post a reminder in the bathroom of what needs to be done and in what order including eating breakfast, getting dressed, washing face, combing hair, brushing teeth, putting on coat and grabbing backpack. Establish a bedtime routine, also, including showering, laying out school clothes (including shoes), packing the backpack and putting it by the door, brushing teeth and reading for a few minutes.

• Reading and real life math: In order for your child to be academically successful, his or her brain needs “exercise.” Schools spend far too much time at the beginning of the year reviewing knowledge and procedures from the year before. If your child reads every day and interacts with numbers it will increase their ability to learn starting on the first day of school. Teachers recommend 20-30 minutes of reading every day during the summer. Include your child when you go to the bank, measure ingredients for cooking, use coupons shopping, calculate which package is a better value, pay your bills and other ways in which you use math on a daily basis.

There are a lot of things you should also do including making sure your child eats healthfully and spending quality time with your child before they are gone all day but the big three are rest, routine and reading.

If you can’t resist the shiny new pencils and crisp clean paper, then pick up some supplies for your child (and even a little something for yourself) but keep in mind the best way to have your child be prepared for the start of the school year can not be found a the mall or local discount store. Remember — the three R’s of school need the three R’s of home for support — rest, routine and reading.

Victoria Simon is the principal at Threshold Academy in Orleans.

The opinions expressed in the Guest View do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Daily News.

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