Teachers want parents to know that there are several things that can be done now to help prepare students for a great school year ahead. Before summer vacation ends, begin preparing your children for their return to the classroom. You want your kids to be ready to learn on day one instead of scrambling at the last minute.
Know the School and Its People
Familiarize your students with the school and its staff. Many schools will host a back-to-school event for incoming students prior to the first day of classes. These programs often include facility tours, supply lists, and meet-and-greet sessions with teachers. If your child's school lacks such an event, call the main office to schedule a visit. This is especially important for children who will be attending a new school. Together, you and your child can locate classrooms, restrooms, the cafeteria, and even the playground. You may even be able to spend a few minutes getting to know the classroom teachers. The first day of school can be an overwhelming experience, but being able a bit familiar with the surroundings can bring a child great comfort.
If available, be sure to pick up a list of required school supplies during your visit. Such lists are sometimes available online at the school's or teacher's website. Local retailers may even post these lists where school supplies are displayed. Students sometimes receive supply lists on the first day of classes, however. (The basics—a writing utensil and paper—are all students will need on the first day, if that is the case.)
At-Home Routines Make All the Difference
Get your kids practicing an a.m. and p.m. routine several days prior to the first day of school. Begin with an evening wind-down period. Bright screens can delay sleep, so power down tablets, phones, and other devices prior to bedtime. Teach your children to use the time before bed for washing up, picking out clothes, arranging supplies, and setting an alarm.
When school starts, children must be out the door on time so they will be able to arrive at class when expected. Since there are still a few more days left in summer vacation, pick an early event or activity for your kids to do around the time that school will begin each morning. This will give the family a chance to practice being prepared for that first day of real classes. Establishing a morning and evening routine is a life skill your child will be using throughout school and later in the job force.
Once school begins, you will want to introduce another routine, one for after-school procedures. Teachers recommend having a designated study area at home for your child. It should include essential school supplies, a calendar, and reference materials. The place should be comfortable and free from distractions. Here will be the place to do homework, work on projects, and study. It can also be the location where you teach your child organizational skills. With young children, you'll want to sort through their school bags with them, keeping an eye out for important messages. This is also the perfect time to have your child share with you their school-day experience. In addition to re-telling you about their day, they can demonstrate what they have learned or share examples of their work.
Traveling to School and Home
First-time bus riders may have a bit of anxiety about boarding the school bus. That's not surprising since the bus is enormous and driven by someone who is not a relative. Boarding is an especially intimidating process for those who wait for the bus stop alone. Teachers recommend parents and caretakers visit the bus stop with their children and discuss what the process will be like. Talk about where to stand, how to be alert of passing traffic, and what to do if approached by a stranger. These are also topics to cover with kids who will be walking to school. Before summer break ends, walk the route with your child several times. Time yourselves so that your child will know what time he or she must leave home to arrive at the school on time.
Update Emergency Information
Your child's school will need to know who to contact in the case of an emergency. Provide them with current home, work, and cell numbers for yourself and other trusted contacts. Alert the school of any medical conditions your child has. It is also wise to report these to your child's teacher directly. You'll want to be sure those supervising your child know how to react if your child has an emergency.
The same information should be carried in your child's school bag. Medical emergencies can occur at any time, such as during the walk to school, and this information can be valuable to first-responders unable to communicate quickly with the school.
Encourage a Pro-Education Mindset
Demonstrate a positive attitude towards school, and you may find your child follows in your footsteps. Begin discussing with your child what will be learned throughout the upcoming year. How do those skills play into your child's interests? How do their hobbies relate to what will be learned in the next grade? Ask your child about his or her goals to achieve over the next several months. Talk with your child about the steps needed to achieve these. You may want to have your child write the goals down and pick a date to revisit them in the future to evaluate progress. You will want your child to get the most out of his or her education. Keep an interest in how your child is doing and encourage progress toward your child's personal goals.
Teachers want parents to know that falling back into the school routine doesn't have to be a challenge. Tackle working your way up to the first day a little bit at a time. Don't forget to read, with your child, a few great stories about characters going back to school to see how they overcame their obstacles. Some favorites to try include: The Berenstain Bears Go to School, Let's Go to School: Hello Kitty & Me, and Curious George's First Day of School.