Back to School Tips

As the bells ring and the buses roll, teachers and students aren’t the only ones who need to be ready for the opening day of school.

Parents must be prepared to help children make a smooth transition, says Dr. Tabitha “Toby” Daniel, associate professor in Western Kentucky University’s School of Integrative Studies in Teacher Education.

Students need a daily routine before and after school, Dr. Daniel said. “I think children love routine. They need structure,” she said. “It helps all of us to have a routine.”

Here are some tips she offers:

· Set a time to go to bed and a time to get up.

· Make sure the child eats a good breakfast.

· Determine how the child is getting to and from school – by bus or by parent.

· Set a time and a place for homework – preferably away from the television or other distractions.

· Have an evening meal together and share events of the day.

“If there’s one thing I’d really encourage families to do is to provide some structure in the evening,” Dr. Daniel said.

A daily routine will help keep the family schedule in balance, Dr. Daniel said. If a child has a soccer practice or other event in the evening, the student knows where homework fits into the schedule, she said.

For older children, the routine may seem a bit too routine. But for younger children entering school for the first time, the routine may seem any but routine, Dr. Daniel said. A typical 5-year-old starting kindergarten will have numerous questions. What happens if I need to use the restroom? How do I get lunch? How will I know which bus ride? What happens if I get sick? How do I know which stuff is mine?

Again, parental involvement is the key, Dr. Daniel said. She encourages parents to take advantage of open houses at school or find those answers before school begins.

She offers some tips for parents of kindergarten or first-time students:

· Know what time the bus arrives and where to wait. Discuss bus safety issues and tell the child not to accept rides from others.

· If the parent is taking the child to school, make sure the child knows which door to enter, where the classroom is and where to report each morning.

· Make sure the child knows their first and last name and their parent’s name.

· Dress your child appropriately and take into account room temperature.

· Decide whether the child will take lunch from home or eat school lunches.

· Be specific when asking your child to discuss the day at school. “What did you do today is a big question for a child to answer,” Dr. Daniel said. Ask what their favorite activity was or what was one thing they did before lunch.

· Meet the teacher and other school officials.

· Get involved with your child’s education because research shows that student performance improves as parents become actively involved in schools.

· Read to your child daily. Keep it up as your child gets older. “Don’t stop when your child become a reader. Read chapter books with them. It can be a special bonding time,” Dr. Daniel said.

 

Jennifer Cummings

Ms. Cummings, author, and editor of the Education and School Section, she has a B.A.in psychology and an M.Ed. in special education from Framingham State College in Massachusetts. She was an elementary teacher in Massachusetts serving both regular education and special education students. She has taught grades 1,4, and 5.

"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings.
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