First Days of School
Start the School Year Right
Whether it is back-to-school time or a mid-year switch, it is so important to start those first days of school out right. Are you blazing the trail with your first child or are your kids further down the road in their educational career? Whatever the stage, your children need your help navigating through transitions successfully.
From year to year, schools change policies and procedures. There are new things to know. More than likely your child will have a different teacher, as well. That teacher might even be new to the school. If so, both student and teacher will be learning the ropes together!
Back-to-school jitters are normal. Normal for students. Normal for teachers. Normal for parents. There is a combination of excitement-anxiety that just comes with the territory. The wonderful thing about a new school year is that everything is fresh. A clean slate! The lumps and bumps of the previous school experience are behind you and this is your family's opportunity to start out on the right foot.
Prepare For the New School Year
Parents, minimize the stress by being well-prepared. Here are some tips that will help your family get off to a great start:
Learn the Routines. Is there a school newsletter? How does the teacher communicate with you at home? It is important to recognize that the back pack will be a source of valuable information for you to see. Find out what nights information is sent home and what evenings you can let it slide.
Check the back pack with your child every day. Engage them in the process.They need to understand the importance of everything that is being sent home.
Teachers and administrators are also becoming more technologically engaged. There may be online means of communication from your child's school but then the ownership of getting that information weighs heavily on you. They can post it or email it but if you aren't looking for it, you will be left uninformed.
School Calendar. Be sure that you get a copy of the yearly calendar and keep it in a convenient place that works for you. Many families use their refrigerator as a bulletin board. Put it there.
Others use a binder for important school communications. As long as it won't be forgotten in that binder, binders can be a wonderful organizing tool. Don't hesitate to ask for a second copy, or make one yourself. If you work outside of the home, it helps to have one copy at home and one at work.
Family Calendar. Coordinate your family's schedule on one calendar. Give each family member their own color and write in important school events and other obligations such as doctor's appointments, sports practices and games, music lessons, scout troop meetings, church, birthdays, holidays, etc. Anything that impacts your family, including the dog, should go on there. Put it in a prime location that everyone can refer to easily.
Keep track of events. You'd be surprised how many families of school-age children lose track of even the biggest events. School Concerts, Open House Night, Parent/Teacher Conferences, report cards, days that school is closed. Write them down.
What about the repeat performances like Show 'n Tell Day, Dress Down Day, field trips, special food events where money is needed or perhaps you are the parent to send in the snack? Be prepared at all times and look like a champ!
Remember their stuff. Little children are just getting started at remembering things. Being ill-prepared puts your child on shaky ground. Mom and dad, teach them how to be prepared by doing a lot of it with them. Develop an evening and morning routine that will keep everything in order and at hand.
Evening Routine: getting ready for bed is not just getting ready for bed, it also includes being ready for the next day. Include the following:
- Homework completed, in a folder and in the backpack. Check their assignments early enough in the evening to be assured that everything that needs to be done is done.
- Lunch made and/or lunch money in their ready to go.
- Clean, wrinkle-free school clothes & accessories collected and in one place.
- Special clothing--gym uniforms, sports equipment, outer wear--also ready.
- Check the family calendar for other next-day items that need to be done the night before.
- Cuddle-time. For little ones, this is literal. Snuggle up with a story book and get close. With your older children, still take special time to hear about their day and encourage them that they're doing great.
Morning Routine: a good breakfast is essential to having a great day. Be sure that your children eat a healthy, balanced meal before starting out the door. Time with you is also important. Program in your breakfast, at the table with them. Make the connection and always get in a hug and kiss before you all go on your way. Tell them you love them and it's going to be a great day.
Tips to Keep Things Running Smoothly
Parents, keep a school binder. This binder is for you. Important papers like newsletters and the school calendar, need to be in a handy location where you can get your hands on them.
The Homework Box: this is your child's work station. Find out the materials that the teacher expects them to use regularly and keep them in a sturdy, plastic box. Pens, pencils, erasers, protractor, ruler, scissors, glue stick, colored pencils,crayons markers, stapler, calculator should all be there.
Send in spare clothes. Young children in preschool and kindergarten may be potty trained but accidents do happen. Send in a clean pair of pants, shirt, underwear and socks to keep in their cubby just in case. This "disaster prevention" will be a quick fix for your child and prevent you from having to leave work abruptly to bring in a change of clothes. (NOTE: young children grow FAST. If they are outgrowing their clothes at home, the ones at school won't fit either. Send in a larger outfit. Emergency clothes that are too small are another emergency waiting to happen!)
Eat well and sleep well. A balanced, nutritious diet and plenty of sleep is important for your child. It will help them to stay healthy, have energy and be focused.
Volunteer to help in the classroom. There is no better way to help your child to do well in school than getting involved yourself. Offer to help in the classroom, chaperone on field trips and be a support. Enjoy being a part of school wherever your time will allow.
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