Ways you can help your child start the school year off right
By Mindy Zapata, Southwest Human Development’s director of Head Start
A school year off to a great start can influence a child’s attitude, confidence and performance both socially and academically. The transition into school can be difficult for children and parents. Even children who are eager to start school may need to make adjustments as they start their school year. The amount of adjustment is dependent on the individual child; however, parents can help their children manage the back to school transition and make the first day easier.
Confirm that your child is physically healthy and ready to learn.
To start the year off right, verify that your child is in good physical health and mental health. Schedule doctor and dental checkups early so that you know your child is ready to begin school with a foundation of well-being. Discuss any concerns you have over your child’s emotional or psychological development with your pediatrician. Your doctor can help determine if your concerns are normal, age-appropriate issues or require further assessment. Your child will benefit if you can identify and address a potential issue before school starts.
Routines are essential.
Plan to establish or re-establish bedtime and mealtime routines at least one week before school starts. Prepare your child for this change by talking with them about the benefits of school routines. For example, if they are not overtired they will be ready to have a great time at school. Bedtime reading is a great routine to start in summer and to sustain as the school year begins.
Parents: Do your homework.
You may have received information this summer from your child’s school. Make sure to review any material sent by the school as soon as it arrives. These packets may include important information about your child’s teacher, room number, school supply requirements, school calendar dates, bus transportation, health and emergency forms, and volunteer opportunities within the school.
Visit school with your child.
Visiting the school can help your child feel at ease with the upcoming school transition. Meeting the teacher, locating their classroom, lunchroom, etc., will help ease back to school worries and will also allow your child to ask questions about the new environment. Call ahead to your child’s school to identify what your school system is for back to school campus visits. Parents can make note of important back to school dates, especially back to school orientation events. This is especially important if you have children in more than one school and need to juggle obligations.
Maintain a positive perspective.
Send personal notes in the lunch box or backpack, especially if your child is anxious about school. Reinforce their ability to cope with back to school transition. Be a model of optimism for your children so that they will emulate your confidence.
Plan to volunteer in the classroom.
Volunteering helps your child understand that school and family life are linked and that you care about their learning experiences at school. Being in the classroom is a great opportunity to develop a relationship with your child’s teachers and classmates, and to get firsthand exposure to the classroom environment and routine. Teachers welcome parent help and involvement.
The sound of backpacks shuffling and children’s laughter is in the air,
a sure sign that the new school year has arrived!
We are collecting supplies to ensure each child is off to a great start this school year.
Donate school supplies today using our online shopping cart!
All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.