Preparing for the Start of School
Posted on August 23, 2017 by CHS
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, there are things you need to do in order to help both you and your child feel prepared. The tips in each section below will offer guidance on going to school for the first time, getting organized for school success, and staying safe.
If your child is starting kindergarten, you can support her by taking steps to slowly transition her to a school environment. If you can show her where she will be, what will happen, and who will keep her safe, the first day of school will be a positive experience.
Visit the public library to check out some children’s books that tell stories about the first day of school. Read a book each evening with your child, and encourage her to share her ideas and feelings about the story. Here are some books to try:
- Countdown to Kindergarten by Alison McGhee and Harry Bliss
- Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
- The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing
- On the First Day of Kindergarten by Tish Rabe
- Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School by Herman Parish
- First Day of School (Little Critter Books) by Mercer Mayer
Once you have introduced your child to the idea of school, take a field trip to see the campus. You can show your child where things are and explain what will happen during the day. If possible, schedule a meeting with the teacher before school starts to introduce yourself and your child. Make sure you know who the people are at your child’s school and what policies and rules the school staff expect you and your child to follow.
The week before school starts, sit down with your child and plan the lunches she will take to school. Write the days of the week on a piece of white paper, with the lunch menu under each day. Let your child decorate her lunch menu and hang it on the refrigerator. This is a visual reminder to your child that school is coming soon and she will have special lunches packed just for her.
On the first day of school arrive early. Walk your child to the door of the classroom and introduce her to the teacher. Explain to your child that it is the teacher’s job to keep her safe and if she needs anything, this is the person that will help. This is also an opportunity to introduce yourself and your child to the other families who are starting school.
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.
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 a printable checklist of safety issues parents and guardians should consider when their child starts school. 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).
Some more 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 browse 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/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
- Going To and From School More Safely: http://www.missingkids.org/en_US/publications/Going_to_and_from_school_EN.pdf
- 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
- Printable Back to School Child Safety Checklist for Parents and Guardians: http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=AwrTcdM2tYNZAeYA7rYnnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTEyNmllbTFrBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwM2BHZ0aWQDQjQzOThfMQRzZWMDc3I-/RV=2/RE=1501832630/RO=10/RU=http%3a%2f%2fwww.missingkids.com%2fen_US%2farchive%2fdocuments%2fDuracell_safetytips.pdf/RK=1/RS=f69DjFgTufiQw6gHZX9wTwAi4uI-
- Printable Child Identification Kit: http://www.missingkids.org/en_US/publications/Child_ID_EN.pdf
Recursos y referencias en español:
- Cómo ir a la escuela y volver a casa de manera más segura: http://www.missingkids.org/en_US/publications/Going_to_and_from_school_ES.pdf
- 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
- Tarjeta de identificación de niños (versión imprimible): http://www.missingkids.org/en_US/publications/Child_ID_ES.pdf