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Back to School Prep for Tech-Savvy Students


Back to School prep used to mean mastering a few basics like learning to sit still and listen after the lazy days of vacation were over, settling on a school night routine and buying a backpack full of pencils, paper and paste. But today, getting ready to go back to school is not so straightforward. Modern classrooms are wired to the max and adjusting to these new technologies—or learning to put limits on familiar ones—can be a challenge for parents and students alike.

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By Roberta Munoz

Back to School prep used to be simple, but in today's wired world, prepping for September is much more complicated. How can you prepare your 21st century tech-savvy child for Back to School? Michelle Kees, Ph.D., a University of Michigan Health System child psychologist, says that starting early and involving your child will reduce anxiety. Use these tips to stay on top of tech issues as you and your kiddo transition from summer to school.

Get the Facts

The middle of the summer isn't too soon to contact your child's future teacher and school. Find out all about the classroom and the technologies that your little learner will be using. Ask: Are there computer stations in the classroom or library? What programs do these computers run? Even the youngest children—kindergarten through first grade—often have a variety of learning programs loaded onto their classroom computers.

Learn New Programs

Once you discover what kinds of gadgets your child will be exposed to, make sure that you understand enough to help her. If you're unfamiliar with how something works, practice with it before the start of school so that you can answer all the questions that might come up. New programs, apps and other learning tools are appearing every day and you will want to be on top of things!

Know Your Limits

Most schools now have policies regarding cell phone, smartphone and other tech device use in the classroom and on school grounds. Learn the rules well ahead of time—and start practicing limits with your child now before she has to quit texting cold turkey.

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Clean House

Be sure you and your kid are on the same page about the purpose of the tech gadgets she currently has—and how she plans to use them in the new school year. Start the cleanup of her existing devices, such as a tablet or laptop full of games, now. Get rid of distracting programs and prepare to dedicate the device to homework. This process should start early so your child has time to understand your expectations for the coming year.

Set Up a Study Spot

Create a homework nook now and try to make it as compatible and effective as possible for your little learner. Will she be practicing reading or math with a favorite program at school? Install that program on your "homework" computer before the beginning of the year. Will she be expected to log on from her home computer? Do group projects online? Talk to teachers early to ensure that your kid has everything she needs to succeed.

Get Social

Use social networks to connect to kids and parents in your child's future class. Making new friends and fitting in is always a big source of anxiety when starting the school year. Contact other parents and see if you can set up a class page or site. "Kids will love reconnecting with school friends who they might not have seen over the summer break," says Kees.

Saying goodbye to summer doesn't have to be so stressful that your little one tosses and turns at night. Keeping ahead of schedule will ensure a smooth transition from fun in the sun to school success!

Worried about your child's online safety? Read about online etiquette for kids, which helps keep your kid out of the Internet's "bad neighborhoods."