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Time to prep for a new school year

Only a few short weeks of summer left to enjoy. Is it too early to begin thinking about the beginning of a new school year? Your child might think so, but experts disagree. Now’s a great time to begin prepping.

We posed this question to several of our experts and here’s what they suggested:

School supply displays are up

  • Parents might want to start buying school supplies. Many stores have a school supply list in their area.
  • Another idea is to start putting children to bed a few minutes earlier each night or read with them before going to bed.
  • Ask children what they want to learn at school this year. What are their feelings about returning to school?
  • Lincoln Elementary in Denver has some great websites for students. For preschoolers through second-graders, see http://lincoln.dpsk12.org/k-2. For third- through fifth-graders, check out http://lincoln.dpsk12.org/topsites.

– Rosalie Gomez

Start to review and imagine a new grade

  • If your child is going into fourth grade, review the third grade concepts for math. What a nice feeling for any kiddo to go in remembering math vocabulary and math concepts. You might do this by playing math games in the car,  or having your child be the shopper with a bit of money incentive.
  • This same concept can be applied to writing and reading, of course, but I think starting with the concepts from a review standpoint is always nice. Then your child goes into the new year feeling so strong.
  • If there was a summer reading list, hopefully that has been tackled and discussed. Remember, you don’t have to like it.  That’s even more fun. “I didn’t like that character. Is that OK?”  What a fun, non-traditional parent comment. Those unexpected comments can free up your child to be authentic.
  • I’d ask what might be the biggest challenge, e.g. What if I can’t figure out my locker, where or when to use the bathroom, what is going to be the best part of the year, Jake is going to be in my class, I can walk and don’t have to take the bus, etc.  These are all good talking points and will give the parental units a “heads up.”

– Suzanne Lustie

Celebrate the pending summer’s end

  • Have an ‘end of summer’ celebration to mark transition.
  • Reconnect with school friends.
  • Correct any ‘drift’ that may have occurred in schedule (i.e., staying up later, watching more TV) to avoid drastic changes when school starts.

– Kevin Everhart

Examine summer routines that don’t fit with school

Things I generally talk to parents about (and sometimes kids), include:

  • Leaving about a two-week cushion to start transitioning back to a “school” bed time.
  • Waking up a bit earlier and going to bed earlier every day.
  • I also emphasize the importance of communicating with the school as far ahead of time as possible regarding any necessary academic supports the child may need.
  • If the child has a history of anxiety with school, I tell parents to start talking to their kids about their feelings regarding school to help them prepare for feeling more stressed again. Taking that step can decrease the “shock” of starting school again.
  • If the child is younger, I have the parents check to see if the school has an orientation or tour they can take with the child. That way, your son or daughter can meet the child’s teacher, principal and other staff as soon as possible.
  • Talk to your child about what he or she expects with the start of another school year and what the expectations will be of him or her, both behaviorally and academically.
  • Consider offering rewards for good academic performance, such as increases in allowance or family time.

– Steve Sarche

Tips for parents of younger children

  • Take you child school supply shopping, write out a list, give them a basket at the store  and begin sending the message that they have ownership over the process. Buy some extra supplies for them to have at home.
  • Create a work/art space in your home where your child can access learning tools like pencils, crayons, colored pencils, paper, envelopes etc.  (We use tool boxes from the hardware store so it’s mobile).
  • A week before school begins begin slowing down summer activities and create some routines and rituals for bedtime and wake-up.
  • Buy an alarm clock and teach your children how to set it and wake themselves.
  • For young children with separation issues, talk  through with them how the transition will go : “When we go to school I am going to give you a hug and a kiss and then I will say goodbye.” Keep it simple and let your child know that you believe in his or her ability to make the separation.

– Laura Barr

Practice new routines now

  • Try introducing some new responsibilities that you want your children to take on once school begins. For example, I have having my son  practice making his lunch now so that he will will feel confident once school begins, and be encouraged to eat what he packs.

– Kerry Lord

Editor’s note: Read about these experts and their backgrounds.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.