Start the Year off Right – Parents
The anticipation of Back-to-School brings excitement and anxiety to both
parents and children alike. First day jitters, new routines, structured
schedules and separation anxiety affect millions of students each fall.
Judsen Culbreth, Editorial Director of Scholastic Parenting and Early
Childhood Magazines, offers helpful tips to parents to assure a smooth
transition into the new school year.
Keep Reading Fun: Reading is the basic survival skill in today's
information society. Reading at home should not be associated with
homework -- children should be encouraged to read for enjoyment as well as for
school. Instilling the love of reading in children not only enhances
essential literacy skills, but has been proven to have a positive effect
on all areas of childhood education. Parents can follow simple suggestions
to get kids reading, and keep them reading for a lifetime.
Read 20 Minutes a Day -- Make reading a part of a regular
routine, and "sharpen" reading skills before school starts. Set aside at
least 20 minutes every day to read with or to children. For infants and
toddlers, sing songs and read nursery rhymes -- before bedtime, after
dinner or in the bathtub. Such regularly scheduled activities allow parents and
children to bond, especially in today's busy world.
Read Books of Interest -- Make a list of a child's
favorite themes. Each week select a new theme and find books that relate -- books
from a series, books on sports, animals, and travel, etc. Keep a card
catalog with the child's favorite books and his/her reviews of each book read.
Set up a Book Club and Book Party -- Parents can arrange a book club with their children's friends from school. Once a week/month
they can meet after school to talk about their favorite books, share their favorite chapters/characters, and do fun activities themed around the book of the month. Kick off the school year with a book party and invite everyone to come dressed as their favorite character.
Read, Read, Read -- If a child has slacked off in their
reading this summer, parents should help get them back in the habit by
creating ways to make reading a fun activity. Hold bedtime reading
sessions where kids can read a book in bed or outside in a tent with flashlights,
choose books they want to read from their personal home library, etc.
First Day Anxieties: Separation anxiety can be overwhelming for many
young children, but there are many ways to make the first day of school
an easy transition for parents and children.
Greet the Teacher -- Parents should talk to the teacher
and child together to discuss some of the appealing classroom activities
that await him/her at school, and to discuss a child's dislikes, fears,
allergies, or other issues the teacher should be aware of.
Request the Class List -- Parents should ask the school or
teacher to provide them with a copy of their child's upcoming class list
and try to arrange for the child to meet some of his/her new classmates.
Spend Time in the Classroom -- Explore the classroom to see
what it looks like helps kids feel more at ease. Parents should be flexible, arriving early and spending time in the classroom until the child becomes comfortable and settled.
Good-byes -- For younger children, separating from parents
can be difficult, but a good-bye ritual can free children from these
anxieties. Use special parting signs just for parent and child. When the
parent drops the child off at school, the best way to establish trust is
to give a quick kiss and hug and then cheerfully say, "Good-bye, see you
later." The key is to remain calm and positive.
Plan After-School Activities -- Parents can plan something
special for their child after school. Kids love looking forward to a special after-school activity.
Rituals & Routines:* Keep routines and patterns! Children find comfort
in daily routines, whether it's bedtime, meals or getting up in the
morning. When schedules are disrupted by sudden changes such as the start of a
new school year, it can be very unsettling for a child. Parents can help
children by creating special rituals a few weeks before school begins so
they can feel more secure, less distracted and ready to learn.
Morning Moments -- For younger children, developing a
special "getting-ready" routine and sticking with it is the key to happy
mornings. When children can predict what's coming next, they feel
competent and are much more likely to cooperate. A relaxing routine might start
off with some snuggle time and independent play, followed by a nutritious breakfast.
Bedtime -- A parent should establish a leisurely bedtime
routine. Rushing a child can make him/her feel that the parent does not
have time for them. Therefore, evening time should be scheduled to include quiet time together, storybook reading, a bath and some bedtime snuggling.
The back-to-school assignment for parents of special needs kids.
Working together: A parent's guide to parent and professional
partnership and communication within special education.
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