The first day of school is an important milestone. It is a day often marked by both excitement and apprehension. There are many ways to prepare so that everyone feels confident and prepared for day one. Read on for some great ideas about making school success a reality.
Create a Literary-Rich Home Environment
Make books readily available and set apart a separate area for library books. Encourage language and literacy at home by sharing family read aloud books as well as discussing individual books that family members are reading. Use a stack of index cards to create homemade definition flash cards for unfamiliar words that any family members encounter while reading. Periodically share these definitions as a family and practice using these words in oral or written sentences. This allows students to view learning and books as a whole life experience and not anything to resist while at school.
Gain Familiarity with the School and Teachers
Drive or walk past the school building with your child so that it is not an abstract idea or place. Attend any available back to school events and optimize the chance to walk the halls and become familiar with the classroom and the layout of the building. Get to know staff members and other students and their families. Discuss school rules and expectations at home and review safety considerations. Encourage openness about school hopes and fears.
Build Motor Skills at Home
In addition to cognitive skills, children need to develop motor skills as part of school readiness. This does not need to be intimidating. Play and learning go hand in hand. Make sure that your child has experiences with materials like paints, clay, dough, yarn, buttons, and crayons. Supply them with pictures or paper dolls to cut out. Ask friends or family members for used magazines, sewing remnants, and unused craft supplies. Developing motor skills can be inexpensive, interesting, and appealing.
Learn through Those Who Have Gone Before
Read books or watch movies about going to school. Talk to experienced parents who have older children. Have your child do a fun interview about the school experience with a friend or family member. If your child enjoys the spotlight, videotape it and promise to interview your own child in the future. Consider doing monthly or annual interviews with your child as a time capsule type of activity. Your child may grow up and enter an online bachelor degree program, travel abroad, or join the work force, but you will always remember his or her early introduction to education.
Go to bed at a certain time each night and have a set wake up time. Try not to vary by more than half an hour. Create a soothing bedtime routine including book reading and lay out outfits and lunches the night before. Talk about the next day’s schedule and activities before bed and then again during breakfast so that all family members are up to date and know what to expect. Assign a drawer or folder for school papers and back packs. Hang up a bulletin board to post important papers, calendars, and special assignments or art projects. Post important contact information for your child’s teacher. Get family members on board with meal planning and post a weekly meal schedule as well as family chore charts. Talk to your children about school lunch menus and the option to bring a packed lunch to school.
Get ready for many new experiences and make sure that your child knows that you will always offer guidance and support. Stay up to date about the school calendar and see yourself as a partner to school staff members. Celebrate your child’s achievements and allow yourself to feel the wide range of emotions associated with parenting and children growing up. Make sure that all family members have journals where they can express their feelings about new experiences. Rest assured that preparation and love go far in a child’s growing life.
About the Author: Rachelle Wilber
Bio: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on twitter: @RachelleWilber