Thursday, August 11, 2011

Back to School: Getting Ready

Because it's about that time, I thought I'd do a small series of  "Back to School" posts.  In this one, you'll find my tips for parents as they help their young child get ready for the first day of school.

The countdown is definitely on.  I dipped my toes into the new school year yesterday.  Teachers don't report back until next week, but I went into school today to get a visual on my classroom.  Old faithful got a new coat of paint on the walls, which brightens up the room.  Beyond that, it's just going to need a lot unpacking and organizing.  

I really wish I had a "before" picture of my classroom to post here, because it's always fun to compare to the end result, which is hopefully bright, rich, and inviting about a week later.  But I was trying to get lots done in a small amount of time and didn't even think about stopping to snap a quick "before" pic.  Darn.  Oh well, I'll paint a picture for you.  Think storage shed.   Think lots of pieces of furniture all piled up on top of each other, basically a mountain of furniture.  Watch our for falling rocks easels!  Now add stacks and stacks of boxes.  And a summer's worth of dust.   

Insert imagined image here. 

A couple of good friends helped me get a nice start.  We disassembled the furniture-mountain and unstacked the boxes for later unpacking (thanks Pam and Sylvia!).  And I can't forget to mention the best helper of them all, Pam's son.  I think he would like me to note here that he has very big muscles, and was definitely our #1 mover man.  

I spaced on the "before" pic, but maybe I'll remember to snag an "after" pic or two.  I'm hoping to have things organized, cheery, and welcoming for the first day of school!

Speaking of the fast approaching first day of school, I thought I'd share some of my tips for things parents can do to help young children get ready.  A lot of these things are common sense, and of course, every kiddo's needs are different, but these are things I've found seem to help lots of my students:

  • Start transitioning back into "school" hours (for bedtime, morning wake-up, meal times, etc.) EARLY and GRADUALLY.  And yes, this is mostly a reminder for myself.
  • Let your child join in the fun of picking out school supplies.  If you haven't already received a list from the teacher, stick to basics or personal stuff (like backpack or lunch kit) until you know for sure what exactly your kiddo needs.
  • If your school hosts something like a "meet the teacher event" before school actually begins, try to attend and bring your kiddo.  Lots of kids seem to really benefit from having met their teacher before the actual first day, even if it was only briefly.  
  • Find a familiar face.  It's nice for kids to have at least one classmate that they can look forward to seeing on the first day.  If you know any of your child's classmates-to-be and are able to arrange a play-date, that's always a nice idea.  If it's not possible, no worries.  They will make friends quickly.  I love that about young children!
  • Talk about procedures for the first day, like where you are going to drop your kiddo off (in the cafeteria, classroom, front door?), how they will pay for their lunch or eat the one you packed, what they should do if they need to use the restroom, ways to greet their new teacher or classmates, etc.  For young children, it might be helpful to rehearse, or role play, some of these scenarios.  Your kiddo will probably really enjoy that, too!  Let them be the teacher and you play the child, entering the classroom on the first day of school.  Be silly and have fun with it!
  • While you should prepare your child to have a fun, successful first day of school, you want to be careful to not over-stress the issue.  Keep it light and fun.  My mentor and good friend, Pam, always mentions that in her letter to parents prior to the first day of school, and now I always do to.  Wow, Pam is rocking it out all over this post.  Love ya, friend!
  • Together with your child, read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and consider adapting this sweet tradition for your family.
  • Take a picture of your kiddo on that first day of school.  It's crazy to see how much they grow!  And you can also use this for those embarrassing wedding slideshows in 20 years or so.
  • When dropping your child off for the fist day of school (whether that is in their classroom or elsewhere), remember that your kiddo looks to you in new situations.  Smile confidently and keep the goodbyes light and easy.  That means No Crying.  No Extended Lingering.  And No Clinging To The Door Frame As Your Spouse Attempts To Drag You Away By Your Feet.  Just kidding.  But in all seriousness, the more confidently the parents SEEM to handle the goodbye (read: there is nothing against crying in your car!) the easier it usually is for the kiddo.  
  • Enjoy the moment.  No matter what happens, in a few days your child will probably be loving their new school and friends and will be on their way to a whole new year of blooming!
Good luck to you and your family as you get ready for the first day of school.  
Now I better get to work on that classroom!

We'd love to hear your tips for preparing yourself, your classroom, or your children for the first day of school!  What works for you?

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a fantastic book. Thanks for the recommendation!