Tips for the First Day of School
More First-Day Tips
By Leigh Felesky
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Know Your Child’s Stage
Understanding a child’s developmental stage can help parents gauge what kind of situations they can handle and what might be more of a challenge. According to the American School Counselor Association, the average six-year-old is egocentric and generally wants to be the “best and first.” They also have boundless energy, may be oppositional, silly and critical, they cry easily and have difficulty being flexible. As they grow, children begin to gain awareness of their feelings, start to participate in groups, and learn from their mistakes.
Also, the more parents know about what their child learns at school, the more they can maximize day-to-day learning with examples and activities at home. In general, first-graders learn to print, start to read, do simple addition and subtraction up to ten, and read simple maps. Check with your child’s school to find out the curriculum when in doubt.
Talk, Talk, Talk
Discussing what might happen on the first day is one of the best ways to prepare your child. Tell her the name of her teacher, what the classroom will look like, and some of the activities she can expect to be involved in. Ask her if she has any fears and if so, address them. Be sure to take advantage of open houses or meet-the-teacher days – getting familiar with the environment will go a long way for your beginner student.
Create a “Study Spot”
Prepare a designated area at home with crayons, paper, scissors and any other kindergarten “tools” such as letters, numbers and books. Even before school starts, recommends Countdown to Kindergarten, have your child sit in this area for a few minutes every day and do some drawing, reading or whatever they’d like. Once school starts, this can become the place where your child does their homework.
Most parents and teachers would agree that communication between home and school makes for a better experience. According to the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), when parents and teachers work together as a team, children are more likely to succeed at school. Let your child’s teacher know about any concerns you have regarding their behavior or health.
Alberta teacher Fay Chomik, for example, stresses the importance of this communication. “You don’t want a child to have a bad experience because he’s asking to go to the bathroom every half hour and the teacher says, ‘No,’ thinking he doesn’t need to go but in fact he does because he has a bladder infection,” she says.
Also, contact the school if your child is ill, will be late, you’ve had a change of address, or if a different person will be picking them up. And be sure to tell the teacher about important events in your child’s life. Your daily interest in your child’s progress will let him know that school’s important.