It happens every year – and every year it seems to catch us by surprise.
As memories of Fourth of July fireworks begin to fade and sales signs begin to sprout in storefront windows, families across the nation begin to realize that back-to-school time has snuck up on them again.
Though your children may want to pretend that summer will never end, you know that the return to the classroom grows closer with every passing day. And although no formula has yet been created to ensure a seamless transition between summer vacation and the start of school, the following five tips can help make back-to-school time a little easier:
Back-to-School Tip #1: Be Enthusiastic
Almost every student approaches the start of a new school year with at least a bit of trepidation, and if your child has struggled with school in the past, he’s much more likely to be less than overjoyed about heading back into the classroom.
To allay your child’s fears, do your best to project an attitude of confidence and enthusiasm:
- When he talks about problems he’s had, discuss the ways that you worked together to find solutions to those crises, and let him know that you’ll continue to do whatever you can to make his academic experience as enjoyable and productive as possible.
- If your child expresses concern about dealing with certain teachers or students, remind him about the friends he’ll be able to spend time with and identify the teacher(s) with whom he has built a positive relationship.
- If your child begins to dwell on the frustrations he’s had in the past, emphasize that this is a new year, a new beginning, and a new chance. And don’t ever stop telling him how proud you are of him, and how confident you are that he’ll be able to have his most successful year yet.
In many households across the nation, the start of a new school year is accompanied by a blend of enthusiasm and cautious optimism, as students and parents prepare for what they hope will be their best year yet.
But for families of students whose academic histories have been marked with failures and frustrations, September can truly be the cruelest month. Regardless of the promises (or threats) that "this year is going to be different," underachieving students and their parents often view the end of summer as the beginning of an inevitable descent into nine months of low grades, behavior problems, conflicts and confrontations.
If the previous paragraph sounds familiar to you — if you are already steeling yourself for arguments over incomplete assignments and conferences with exasperated teachers — here are seven of the most important words you’ll read all week: It doesn’t have to be that way.
Your child doesn’t have to spend another year falling farther and farther behind.
Your family doesn’t have to endure another year of school-related tension and turmoil.
And you don’t have to spend another year wondering how things went so wrong — and worrying that you’re never going to see your child achieve the successes that you know are within reach.
“Your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” These words can be crushing to parents. But hearing these words when your child is young may actually be a gift in disguise.
A recent study led by Joshua Breslau of the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, suggests that attention problems early in a child’s life can directly influence future academic performance in the form of lower test scores and grades and diminished self-confidence.
"The evidence suggests what many educators may already suspect, that kids with attention problems don’t learn as much," said Breslau. "This starts very early for many children and is cumulative."
The researchers found that attention problems had a stronger impact on future academic success than other childhood psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety and disruptive behavior. Other research shows that at least 70 percent of ADHD children also experience at least one secondary emotional, learning or behavioral problem, are at high risk for developing aggression, opposition and defiance, and are more likely to be suspended and expelled from school.
Attention problems often become apparent as early as kindergarten, when demands are placed on children to engage in higher level learning and develop specific cognitive skills. Experts have found that by the time kids with ADHD get to elementary school, they’re already behind their peers academically, behaviorally and emotionally.
It’s important for children to experience early academic success in order to preserve their enthusiasm for school, career and life in general. As the study authors explained, "Ultimately, students who do poorly may lose motivation to invest in academic work, become more open to competing interests, including substance abuse, and more likely to drop out of school."
Although a diagnosis of ADHD is never easy, the study findings show just how important it is for educators, parents and medical professionals to identify attention problems early and find appropriate programs for children with ADHD in order to prevent problems that could have a lifelong impact.