A school bus
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By Nicky Geis

As summertime is coming to a close, parents everywhere find themselves either anxious or excited to get their kids ready for the first day of school.

Parents of preschool and elementary school-aged kids are looking for the best ways to help prep their bright-eyed kids for heading back to school, while parents of middle- and high school-aged kids need help to get them motivated about school at all. Some parents could blame the back-to-school blues on laziness, but there are unique ways to remedy this symptom, and get students to love learning again.

In San Diego County, there are 747 public schools serving more than 496,000 students. Of that, San Diego Unified School District serves more than 130,000 students in pre-school through grade 12, and is the second largest district in California. Every student is different than the next. Some students may enjoy learning while others may need more support in the process.

Data shows that 91 percent of San Diego Unified’s class of 2016 graduated, earning the school district a record-high graduation rate. However, there were students who fell through the cracks with a dropout rate of 3.4 percent. The love of learning starts at home and needs to be nurtured at an early age, and for high school seniors, it is especially vital that their year start off on the right foot as it can help shape their future.

What Parents Can Do At Home Before School Starts and Year-Round

  • Nicky Geis

    GET YOUR BACK-TO-SCHOOL LIST: Check online via the school’s website, call the school or connect with your child’s teacher directly for a back-to-school list for students. This is especially important for younger students as the list includes the basic supplies needed (i.e. binder, paper, pencils, etc.). Get the list ahead of time and get school supplies early. For families on a tight budget, reuse school supplies that haven’t gone through too much wear and tear. There are a lot of back-to-school sales happening for supplies and clothes. Shop around and find the best deals and sales, and look for coupons online to save money.

  • RESTART YOUR ROUTINE: At least a week before school starts, get your kids back into the proper sleeping routine. It takes kids, no matter what age, time to get back into the swing of things.
  • HAVE A ONE-ON-ONE WITH YOUR KIDS: Sit down and have a conversation to set up a consistent schedule of things, and go over what’s most important this school year. Review your kids’ syllabus and become familiar with it.
  • HOW TO COMBAT THE “I DON’T WANT TO GO” SYNDROME: For parents with middle- and high school-aged kids, acknowledge your kids’ frustration with going back to school. Encourage them and make it more about them and less about school. Remind them of what they’ve already done and accomplished. Be excited for them and remind them that you’re proud of them, and let them know that this is about something more than school. It’s about the habits they’re building and who they’re going to be for the rest of their lives.
  • THE LOVE LEARNING IDEA: Encourage your kids to love learning and get them to always think about learning something new. A fun activity for families to get your kids constantly learning is to go around the dinner table and ask everyone, “what did you learn today?” Everyone, parents included, has to have learned something new every day. If someone didn’t learn anything new, they have to go read a book or do another activity to fulfill that learning requirement. Encourage your kids and the whole family to learn something new every day and consistently get better.
  • YOU’RE THE COMMON DENOMINATOR: For parents with middle and high school-aged kids, remind them to take responsibility for their academic careers. It’s their responsibility, no one else’s and remind them of that: “You’re the common denominator here.” This will help them build better habits for when they get into the workforce.

Understandably, it may be rough for some to get back to the school time routine after summer vacation. Studies show that learning loss can happen resulting in students losing 2.5 months of grade-level equivalency in math skills, and one month of reading and spelling abilities are reduced – particularly for low income students who may not have resources or support to continue reading over the summer. Motivate your student and empathize with them, but ensure they are accountable for their school work and test prep.

Don’t look for a quick fix to get your teen to love learning again. Incorporate learning into your family’s daily routine to make it not only mandatory to learn something new every day, but also demonstrate the importance of it by participating in the fun.

Nicky Geis is an educator at The School for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SET High) in San Diego. She currently teaches leadership with an emphasis on personal growth and development. SET is the first high school in California based on developing the entrepreneurial mindset.