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Back to School

It's that time of year again. Summer activities are winding down, the sales at the mall are in full-effect, and it's time to pack up the kids and send them off to begin another year at school.

Back-to-school time is often filled with changes for families with children. Whether it's your child's first day of kindergarten or he's preparing to attend a new school, a smooth transition from home to the classroom will help him feel good about himself and learn to trust other people. Helping your child adapt to a new situation will also ease your mind and help you become more involved in his education.

Change can be scary for children and adults alike, but transitions are exciting opportunities for kids to learn and grow. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your child feels safe and secure as he moves from one educational setting to another. Strengthening the ties between your family and your child's school program is especially important during these times. Here are a few tips from the National Association for the Education of Young Children that can help.

  1. Be enthusiastic about the upcoming change. Going back to school is easier for everyone if a child has something to look forward to. If you are excited and confident, your child will be, too. Purchasing school supplies and clothes with your child is a good way to help him become more enthusiastic about starting a new school year. Talk to your child about the fun activities he or she will get to do and the new friends they will make.

  2. Be prepared. Note how your child reacts to separation. If possible, visit the school together before the first day of school and introduce yourselves to the teacher(s) together.

  3. Introduce your child to one or more of his classmates ahead of time. Your school should be able to help you connect to other classmates, and this will ensure making friends is a little easier and less scary. Set up a play date before school starts so he'll see a familiar face on the first day.

  4. Start daily routines that will promote continuity in advance. Let your child become involved with packing lunch or laying out clothes for the next day. Also, no more late nights! Find and set an earlier bed time a few weeks before school starts that leaves your child feeling well-rested in the morning. Practice the back-to-school routine a few times before the big day arrives. It is also a good idea to talk to your child's teacher and find out what the normal classroom routine is. Help your child to understand what will be expected.

  5. Put aside extra time, particularly on the first day of school, for communicating with each other. Respond to signs of anxiety by talking to your child about his concerns. Make time to listen when he wants to talk, and discuss his worries one at a time. This will keep him from becoming overwhelmed. Encourage him to share how he's feeling with you before you head out the door on a daily basis.

  6. Don't prolong your goodbyes. If your child cries or clings to you, staying longer will only make it harder on you both. Always be sure to say goodbye in a firm, but friendly way. If your child gets upset, don't ridicule him. Instead, make supportive statements like, "I know it's hard to say goodbye."

  7. At the end of the day, put aside your concerns, whatever they may be, and focus your attention on being the best parent you can be.



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