Preparing for the Start of School
Posted on August 9, 2018 by CHS
Please note: This blog was originally posted on August 23, 2017, and has been updated with additional content to help families in our community.
Fall is quickly approaching and it is time to start thinking about school. Whether your child is going to school for the first time, or is returning to school after summer break, there are things you can do in order to help both you and your child feel prepared. The tips in each section below will offer guidance on recognizing who’s who at school, getting organized for school success, and staying safe. You can also read about illness prevention tips in our Back to School: Keeping Your Child and Family Healthy blog.
Recognizing Who’s Who at Your Child’s School
Most parents are able to recognize their child’s primary teacher, school nurse, and the principal but there are also other important personnel, such as guidance counselors and therapists. Knowing who’s who at your child’s school can help you find the specific help you need, when you need it. View the full list of school personnel provided by Colorín Colorado.
Subject-Area Teacher: Your child may have different teachers that focus on specific subjects such as English, science, or math as he enters middle school. Get to know these teachers during Open House and get their contact information in case you have questions about how your child is doing at school. If you are not able to attend Open House, talk to your child’s homeroom teacher to get this information.
Special Education Teacher: If you have a child with exceptional needs, special education teachers can help students with learning disabilities and will be able to answer any questions related to your child’s needs. Special education teachers can work closely with your child to prepare her for further studies. You can also ask questions or request tips on raising your child with disabilities at home.
ESL Teacher: ESL stands for English as a Second Language; ESL teachers are specialized to help non-native students with English to help them succeed in school. ESL courses will help your child be placed into appropriate classes based on their age and English comprehension abilities. Translators can also be provided to help the students with their class work. You can speak with your child’s ESL teacher on how your child is progressing with his English.
School Counselors: School counselors will help students with different challenges at school. Counselors can help students choose what classes to take the next school year, answer questions about their options after high school, and answer any college-related questions. Speak with your child’s counselor to determine the best course of action for your child’s future.
School Psychologist: Recent studies have shown how mental health is as important as physical health, and it is especially important to growing children. The school counselors can provide consultations to students, families, and teachers to support the student’s success in school. Psychologists can help with mental health support, behavior intervention, crisis preparation and recovery, and more. Speak with the school psychologist if you have questions about your child’s mental health.
Speech Therapist: Speech therapists offer support to students who require assistance with speech, language, and voice communication. If you believe your child has a speech-related problem, the speech therapist can assess your child and help you develop a plan to support his language development.
Getting Organized for Success
You can help your child be more successful in school by teaching her to set goals and be organized. Start by showing your child what being organized looks like. Place a calendar on the wall where family members can write down appointments, events, deadlines for specific tasks, etc. Assign a color to each family member so that your child can easily connect people with tasks.
Next to the calendar make a poster of the family’s daily schedule. Place the time on the left side, followed by the activity, and a drawing or photo of the activity. This will help your child learn about expectations and responsibilities. Encourage your child to note her homework deadlines and other commitments on the calendar. If she is working on a long-term project for school, help her break the tasks for that project down into separate deadlines so that she learns how to pace herself and develop reasonable goals.
Decide on a consistent time and place to do homework. If your child works well on her own, you can set up a study space in her bedroom. She will need a small desk or table, a chair, paper, and writing supplies. If you know your child will need help staying motivated and on task, then create a homework space in an area that is visible to you so you can monitor her work and help when needed. For example, she can use the kitchen table. Keep school supplies organized in a basket you can place on the table.
Help your child create study rules for herself. Write the rules on a large piece of white paper that your child can decorate and hang on the wall as a reminder. Here are some examples of homework rules:
- I will work on my homework in the same place every day.
- I will work on my homework at the same time every day.
- I will finish my homework before I talk to my friends on the phone, watch television, play games, or listen to music.
- I will only use the computer when it is necessary for finishing homework.
Get ready for the next day the night before. This will help reduce stress in the morning. Ask your child to pack her backpack after her homework is done. Make sure she gets all her homework into the backpack. You can also discuss the plan for the next day before her bed time so that she will be less likely to forget important tasks.
Keep an open line of communication with your child’s teacher. Most teachers are willing to be contacted by email or phone, and you can also request a conference. You may also want to consider joining a parent group so that you can have access to the support of other parents during the school year. You can do this informally by meeting parents during drop off and pick up times, or you can join an organized group like the Parent Teacher Association (PTA).
Make sure your child is safe during her journey to and from school, and find out what the school’s safety procedures are for emergencies. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has created printable checklists of safety issues parents and guardians should consider. Some of the tips mentioned are:
- If your child is going to walk to school, then practice walking to and from school. Teach your child how to cross streets safely.
- If your child is taking the bus to school, then wait with her until the bus arrives and she is safely inside.
- Talk to your child about what she can do to protect herself from a stranger (running, yelling, screaming, and kicking).
Additional safety tips to consider are:
- Make sure you understand the schools confidentiality policies. This includes personal information about your child and how photos of your child will be used by the school.
- If someone different is going to drop off or pick up your child, tell the teacher the day before, or call the school that morning.
- Develop a code word for you and your child. Tell her that she can only leave school with an adult who knows the code word; even if the adult is a police officer. Ask her to promise not to tell anyone else the code word. Make sure that everyone on your child’s emergency contact list knows the code word, and change it once it’s been used.
- If you have an older child who will be walking to school, make sure she has two or three friends to walk with, and that she knows who to call, or where to go, in an emergency.
Make conversation about school and safety part of the daily routine for you and your child. This will help your child feel that you are interested in her day, and encourage her to share her worries and concerns with you. If you want more information, you can view the resources below.
Resources and References in English:
- “Back to School Safety” by the National Safety Council (NSC). Tips, resources, and videos about school safety: http://www.nsc.org/learn/pages/keep-children-safe-at-school.aspx
- “Ready for Kindergarten?” by Scholastic: http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/what-to-expect-grade/ready-kindergarten
- “Slow Down: Back to School Means Sharing the Road” by the National Safety Council (NSC): http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/back-to-school-safety-tips-for-drivers.aspx
- Back to School Resources from Reading Rockets: http://www.readingrockets.org/calendar/backtoschool
- Back to School Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): https://healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Back-to-School-Tips.aspx
- California Kindergarten Enrollment Information: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/em/kinderinfo.asp
- California’s State Standards, Parents’ Guides to Student Success, and more resources from the Parent Teacher Association (PTA): http://www.pta.org/parents/content.cfm?ItemNumber=2583
- Child Safety and Prevention Tips (Printable Resources): http://www.missingkids.org/ourwork/publications/safety
- Download a Free Backpack Checklist from Understood: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/learning-at-home/teaching-organizational-skills/download-backpack-checklist?utm_campaign=partner&utm_source=rrockets&utm_medium=email&utm_content=August
- Learning and School Resources by ¡Colorín Colorado!: http://www.colorincolorado.org/families
- Parent Guide: “Who’s Who at Your Child’s School”: http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/parent-guide-whos-who-your-childs-school
Recursos y referencias en español:
- Consejos para el regreso a la escuela por el American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): https://healthychildren.org/spanish/news/paginas/back-to-school-tips.aspx
- Guía para los padres: Quién es quién en la escuela de su niño: http://www.colorincolorado.org/es/articulo/gu%C3%ADa-para-los-padres-qui%C3%A9n-es-qui%C3%A9n-en-la-escuela-de-su-ni%C3%B1o
- Recursos sobre el aprendizaje y la escuela por ¡Colorín Colorado!: http://www.colorincolorado.org/es/familias