09/11/2015 12:33 EDT | Updated 09/11/2016 05:12 EDT

Make Back to School Easier for You and the Whole Family

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With summer now officially over, parents and kids are busy getting ready for the school year. However, the transition from relaxed vacation days to a busy fall routine can be difficult for the whole family.

As a Kumon instructor, I've seen firsthand how students can feel anxious, stressed and even overwhelmed by meeting new teachers and having a full day of class with homework re-introduced to their daily life. If children aren't well-prepared and confident for their first day at school, this may affect the entire year ahead and their grades may suffer.

Aside from letting your child know you're always there to help and support them, I recommend the following at-home techniques to help set your son or daughter up for success this school year:

Read a book a day.

Leading up to their first day back in the classroom, set aside a specific time for reading. This approach helps get your child's brain active again and back into the mindset of learning. Make it fun by establishing "together time," asking your child to read a book that matches a summer activity you shared, such as going to the beach, riding horses or camping.

Get a head start on your morning routine.

If a child isn't getting enough sleep, concentration and academic performance suffers. To prepare for early mornings, set a strict bedtime for your child a week before school starts. Continue your morning "practice run" by planning quick and healthy breakfast ideas together. If your child is old enough, have him/her get into the habit of making lunch.

Talk about first day of school jitters.

Being nervous about the first day of school is natural. From new teachers to new friends to new schedules, the anticipation can be overwhelming. Remind your child of their past achievements and what he or she has to look forward to -- from learning to starting extracurricular activities.

Tour the route and school.

In addition to getting used to a routine, it's also important to make sure that your child is familiar with the route to school and school environment. Take a practice run and tour the school ahead of time if possible.

Enroll in an afterschool math and reading program

Finding the right afterschool math and reading program will help your child improve their skills and confidence. Kumon, for instance, goes beyond tutoring and helps children actively develop critical thinking skills while progressing independently through a carefully crafted, Kumon curriculum. The KumonMath and Reading programs cover everything from counting to calculus, and phonetics to Shakespeare.

Encourage a study buddy.

Having a friend to visit the library or to collaborate with on homework can help your child forge positive and supportive relationships with his or her peers. Before school begins, your child may want to begin thinking about who their study buddy could be.

Create a distraction-free "study zone."

Has your child's study area become cluttered over the summer? Now is the time to get organized! Ensure all distractions are removed (e.g. games), and restock on necessities like paper, pencils/pens, erasers, and other study supplies. Encourage your child to use the "study zone" for activities like reading and writing in the weeks leading up to the start of school.

Back-to-school can be challenging but it doesn't need to be. These are just a few tips I give to parents to help ease back into the school year. I find the more prepared you are -- the better off the school year is for the whole family. Help your child start the school year off right -- and remember -- you aren't alone!

To learn more about Kumon and to find a centre in your community, please visit


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