Back to School Checklist for Parents

Getting prepared for the upcoming school year can be a complicated
task that involves gathering school supplies, connecting with new teachers and
administrators, establishing individual needs, creating house rules and
routines, coordinating nutritious meals and snacks, and arranging any needed
accommodations.  To help with the process, I have created the following

Stock Up on School Supplies
p Check the school website or call to inquire about of list of
required supplies.
p Find out whether students will store supplies at school or bring
them home each day.
p See if the school will allow you to get an extra copy of all
textbooks for use at home.  If
not, you can usually find used copies on the internet.
Plan to be Involved
p Mark school events on the family calendar.
p Attend back-to-school meetings.
p Schedule and attend parent-teacher conferences.
p Find out the best way to communicate with each teacher – phone,
email or note.
p Find out from each teacher how he or she communicates homework
p If your child has a 504 designation or IEP, be sure to make
arrangements to meet with the teacher so that you can review strategies that
have worked in the past.
Create a Scheduled Plan and Routine with Clear Expectations
p Create a study schedule for each student in the house.
p Arrange childcare, tutors and after-school activities.
p Avoid over-scheduling.  All
students need free time.
p Create a Family Life Schedule by purchasing a dry erase board with
a two-month calendar.  Schedule
major family plans, activities and appointment for each family member in a
different color.
Establish the Rules and Routines
p Establish a firm bedtime before school starts.
p Determine where and when your child will do their homework.
p Figure out a plan for balancing homework and free time.
p Set firm rules for television, video games, and computer use for
non-school related work.
Plan for Healthy Meals and Snacks
p Arrange healthy breakfasts that avoids sugary cereal, syrup, and
processed, prepackaged foods and mixes.  Consider
options like fresh eggs, yogurt with fruit, and gluten free organic bread. 
p Have plenty of healthy snacks that are free from sweeteners and
preservatives.  Consider
snacks like fresh fruit, cut veggies, nut butter, and dried fruit, nuts and
p Make what I like to call “brain food.” Go to an organic market and
select unsweetened, preservative free nuts, seeds, dried fruit that your child
likes and make snack bags.  I love to get all my snack food from Tierra Farm.
Call the School and Make Arrangements for Any Needed Accommodations
p If your child has a 504 or IEP make sure that all accommodations
are updated.
p Meet with all teachers to assure that they understand the
individual needs of your child.
p Provide a summary of your child’s strengths and weaknesses as well
as their needed accommodations for the teachers.
p Arrange for routine communication with all teachers, tutors and
To learn more about teaching executive functioning
skills and acquiring other helpful learning materials, consider purchasing Planning
TimeManagement and Organization for Success
 This digital download offers methods and handouts that guide and support
students in the areas of learning strategies, time management, planning and organization.  It
includes questionnaires, agendas, checklists, as well as graphic
organizers.  You will also find handouts and advice for reading,
math, memory, setting priorities, motivation and incentives programs.  These tools were
created over a ten-year period for my private practice, and the materials
accommodate learners of all ages from elementary to college.  What’s
more, I offer a free
 assessment from
the publication too, as well as a free
 on executive

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to:,  

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Problems Using Academic Assignments or Homework as a Punishment

In the heat of the moment, it is not uncommon for both teachers and parents to assign academic work as a consequence to inappropriate behaviors.  In addition, pleasurable breaks such as recess are often withheld when students are being unruly or they don’t complete classwork.  A punishment might involve a writing assignment, extra math problems or additional homework.

Why is This a Problem?
The issue with this method is that children associate negative consequences and punishments with academics.  So, for example, if Patty was told to write an essay because she exhibited inappropriate behaviors, the next time she has to write for a school assignment, she will likely associate the negativity she was feeling to writing in general.  In another instance, if Nick had to stay in from recess because he didn’t get his assignment done, he will learn to dread future assignments.

What are Some Better Ways to Handle Unruly Behaviors?

  1. Ignore bad behaviors and reward positive behaviors.  Surprisingly, many kids learn negative behaviors. For example, a child can learn that complaining and whining can get them what they want if someone at sometime gave into their demands.  In addition, if a child only gets attention when misbehaving, they may choose that negative attention is better than no attention at all.  So make a conscious effort to change this cycle and praise all positive behaviors with rewards, verbal appraisals and benevolent attention. 
  2. Use the Opportunity to Lead a Discussion and Lesson on Social Skills.  Interrupt the unruly behaviors and have a calming heart to heart discussion with your child or children.  If necessary, give a “timeout” where all involved spend 3-5 minutes sitting quietly to calm nerves. If it is a classroom, have the class sit in a circle.  Take some deep breaths and encourage the participants to let their bodies relax. Next, see if the students can identify the problem and then ask them to suggest solutions.  If they are a part of creating the solution, they are more likely to make the right decision the next time the situation repeats.
  3. Allow Kids to Earn the Things They Want.  Many children are given all the things they desire without having to work for it.  If however, children earn their belongings, they will value these items more and take pride in their accomplishments.

Let’s Flip the Coin and Associate Pleasantries with Learning
Clearly, we need to help students feel positive about learning.  Therefore, making an effort to associate academics with joy and fun is best.  What can we do to nurture this positive association?

  1. Integrate games into the learning process.
  2. Come up with fun and enticing names for lessons.
  3. Go multisensory and teach to all of the 12 Ways of Learning.
  4. Be excited about the material you are teaching.  Enthusiasm is contagious.
I think you will find the more you associate pleasantries with learning the more you and your children will enjoy the learning process.  I hope you have found this blogpost to be helpful.   If you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments section below.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to &  
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