Back-to-School Time Capsule | A Fun Way to Start and Finish the Year

It’s Time

Heading back to school can be a tough transition for kids and their parents. Summer seems to halt abruptly with the pressure to get school supplies, fill out forms, attend orientations, and so on. Students, on some level, may be happy to get back to class and see friends after so many weeks of free time.

However, back-to-school time may also create some anxiety for students who are facing unknown teachers, schedules, classmates, and academic challenges. This is especially true for younger grades who aren’t as seasoned at seeing summer end.

The new school year can be an anxious time for parents as well, who also face unknowns such as potential homework issues, friendship struggles, and other unforeseen challenges for their kids. It can be a helpless feeling for parents of all grade-level kids as the first day of school gets closer.

The good news is that by focusing on all the learning and positive changes that will take place in the upcoming school year, the back-to-school transition can be much less worrisome for parents and students. One way of making the hopes and worries of a new school year both tangible and manageable is to create a back-to-school “time capsule.”

Looking Forward

The purpose of a time capsule is usually to put an assortment of small, meaningful items into a container to be opened in the future. Heading back to school means a new future in many ways. Therefore, parents can help their kids put together a time capsule of meaningful items at the start of the school year to be opened at the end. This will be a tangible way for students to see their progress and the challenges they’ve overcome.

Kids of all ages can decorate a box or other container to be used as the time capsule. Parents can help make decisions about which small items might be meaningful to put inside. Young students can draw pictures of what they hope will be great about the upcoming school year or something that worries them. Older students can write a letter about their hopes and worries for the school year, put “before” pictures of themselves in the capsules, or even create a list of their favorite music, movies, and books to compare at the end of the school year.

Looking Back

Surprisingly, the school year may go by so quickly that it’s summer soon again. Both parents and their students may forget all about the time capsule and miss the opportunity of opening it on the last day of school. To avoid this, families can mark it as an event on their school and/or personal calendars. Another suggestion is to put the time capsule where summer items are stored, so it’s sure to be found when school is out.

Families can create their own traditions when it comes to opening the time capsule. Some students may prefer to do it away from other family members, whereas others may want everyone to participate. Perhaps a family tradition might be to open the capsule(s) each summer and then add to them for the next school year to accumulate a multitude of memorable items from each grade level.

Most students will be surprised at what they decided to place in the capsule nearly a year ago, and how different they feel compared to that time. They may laugh at their worry list or pictures and be proud of achieving things from their hope list. Overall, the back-to-school time capsule should represent to students and their parents that there will always be hopes and worries as things change but learning and growing is constant and precious.

Tips on How to Get the Kids Ready for Back to School

The transition from summer to school could be a challenging process if not properly planned.  The change in routine for both the parent and children is a consuming process. It’s upon the parent to design a proper formula for the children to follow to make the imminent changes easier to bear. Here are a few proven techniques a parent can follow to make the back to school process as smooth as possible.

Find Out About the School

Find out about your kids’ school, ensure they are ready. During this period, you can decide whether your kids will be attending the same school or you have to find them a new one. Ensure you know the school leadership and some of its staff members. This way, you will know where to go or who to talk to when you have a problem.

Adjust Schedule in the Last few Weeks of the Summer

The last few weeks before school resumes are the most important for getting back to the rhythm. The last week before school opens is when you need to start making all the changes. You need to get back to the right sleeping routines…make sure everyone sleeps and wakes up early. This way, it will be easier for both you and the kids to adjust when school finally opens.

Secondly, there is a need for you to adjust the eating schedule. During summer, meals like breakfast are taken late because children sometimes sleep into the morning. To make sure this is not a problem, change the eating routine. Adopt a school-friendly eating schedule, one that will accommodate you and the children when school finally reopens.

Purchase What Is Required

Back to school comes with new and existing demands from the children and schools. The school has a set of resources they require from all the learners. As a parent, make sure you know about these resources in time. Talk to your children, confirm with the school, plan early and then buy them.

By buying these resources early, you help avoid the last-minute rush that comes with going back to school. It ensures you and your kids are ready for the new session.

Involve the Kids

Make sure your kids understand what is expected of them by you. Keep them informed about their routines. Let them know why they need to follow them. With this information, they will find it easy to adjust to school reopening.

As a parent, most responsibilities fall to you. Being organized will be a big plus for you. You can never be too prepared, keep yourself ready and flexible at all times. Have a plan, follow it and all will go well.

Back to Learning | How to Learn about Learning

Defining the Big Problem

Most students are somewhat excited to get back to school and see their friends, begin new activities, and even to learn. However, once the novelty of the new school year wears off, many students tend to find themselves struggling with the same academic problems as the previous year, or years.

Little classroom time is spent teaching students how to go about learning, so they repeat the same behaviors and mistakes when it comes to their academic approach. This can lead to frustration and resistance to long-term learning. Even top academic students are vulnerable to counterproductive learning due to the pressure they put on themselves to get “good grades” in the short-term.

The good news is that students can turn this around pretty easily before they even begin their first day back to school. Much of the time students are grappling with managing their approach to academics rather than the material itself; and until they can define the specific problem, they won’t have the tools or means to change it. However, once the academic “diagnosis” is made, the remedy can be applied.

Diagnosing the Details

Summer is an excellent time for taking a break from formal learning. It can also give students perspective about their finished school year when it comes time to consider the next one. One way that students can prepare to get back to learning is to review their previous academic year and make an honest diagnosis of what worked for them and what didn’t. Doing this before the first day of school can help set the tone for avoiding the repetition of academic mistakes.

This diagnosis isn’t to identify which subjects they found hard or easy, but rather which of their learning approaches were effective and not effective. Students can start with listing one behavior for each. For example, if students feel they participated well in class then they can list that as an effective approach. More importantly, they should explain why it was effective and beneficial to their academics. Perhaps participating in class kept them engaged with the material so they absorbed more of it. This will give them a clear idea of which behaviors to continue for academic success.

The tougher task is naming a non-effective academic approach. Students may have trouble admitting to procrastination, missing due dates, misunderstanding assignments, and so on. Or they may not know exactly what approach they are taking that makes their learning counterproductive. Parents can help by not judging, and simply asking what didn’t go well the previous year or what they might like to change. Perhaps they want to be more organized in planning research papers, so they spend less time staring at a blank screen worrying about what to write. Or possibly they remember a missed deadline that resulted in a poor grade. Talking it through can bring clarity and a sense of ownership.

Future Reward

Once students clearly identify non-effective academic behaviors, they can figure out how to change them. There are a variety of resources that offer help, such as time management exercises and organization tutorials. The key is to understand that not diagnosing ineffective behaviors will only lead to their repetition. Behaviors and approaches can’t be changed until they are identified. This diagnosis sounds like end-of-summer homework, which can seem unfair. Yet taking time to identify effective and non-effective academic approaches before school starts can save students stress and frustration throughout the year and long-term. It will encourage them to make goals to improve their approach to learning, find resources to help change non-effective behavior, and take steps to becoming more effective in school years to come.