Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Hopefully you’ve had a wonderful summer and have been enjoying every moment. It’s hard to believe, but school is just around the corner.

Like us, some of our kids are looking forward to going back to school and others are dreading it. It’s easy to guess that those who love school are prepared for it.

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To help those who dread it, or are neutral towards it, it’s best to fake it till you make it, i.e. act as if we are excited for the upcoming school year, and before you know it, they just might be.

Here are a few tips to prepare your children as best as possible:

 

Review Those Summer Homework Lists

The most important skill for a Jewish child in a day school is kriah, reading in Hebrew. A child after first grade that does not have a solid foundation in kriah will fall behind cumulatively. Falling behind can make a child feel socially isolated, especially if he or she is in a separate group from other children in their age. Therefore, review kriah! Hire a tutor if necessary, but if that is too expensive, even an older child with a solid understanding of kriah can be hired as a cheap tutor.

Here are the two main components: accuracy, which is knowing how to read the letters along with the different composition of punctuation, and fluency, which is reading without hesitation. Both are important and should be worked on. In addition, literacy in English is crucial as well, and can be obtained simply by borrowing a bunch of fun books from the library and turning reading into a fun bonding moment – this too can be outsourced if need be. The important thing is not to overwhelm the child. Five minutes in each language every day is sufficient to gain a higher level of proficiency.

 

Sleep Schedule

At least two weeks before school start setting an earlier bedtime so the child is rested for school. If your children have been going to sleep at 10 p.m. every night in the summer, it will be difficult to get them to go to sleep at 7 p.m. the night before school starts. Start getting them into bed earlier and earlier until they are going to sleep at the time they need to during the school year.

 

School Supplies

 

Nothing is more exciting than buying school supplies, at least to me. I have fond memories of sitting with my backpack (or briefcase as we used to call it), packing and repacking my supplies for the coming year. If you have your supply list from school, that’s great. If you don’t, there are some supplies you can be sure your child would need, dependent on the grade: folders, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, pencil cases, tape, glue scissors, spiral notebooks, composition notebooks. Very often, these items go on extreme sales in the summer months to get parents through the door. Of course, you will still have to go shopping after school begins, as your child is sure to come home with a new supply list with things you haven’t thought of buying. But this activity is to get your child into the zone and remind your child that school is not just about endless memorization, it is also about markers!

 

Uniforms, School Clothes and Shoes

Another great way to get your child excited about school is to make sure she or he has nice clothes or uniforms ready. Make a day of it, and buy clothing that your child will have room to grow in. Just remember, you want your child to feel good in her new clothes, but not so good that you are scared about the ketchup that will be flying at school during lunchtime.

Most of all, remember that attitudes are contagious, so if you are excited about the new year (and why wouldn’t you be?) your child just might pick up on that excitement as well.

Happy new school year!

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Pnina Baim is the author of the Young Adult novels, Choices, A Life Worth Living (featured on Dansdeals and Jew In The City) and a how-to book for the Orthodox homemaker, Sing While You Work. The books are available at amazon.com. Pnina is available for speaking engagements and personal consulting. Contact her at pninabaim@gmail.com.