Ten Tips for a Great First Day of School!

Many children are jittery on the first day of school. Listed are ways to prepare your child for the big day!

-Read books about school.

-Talk to other children about school, especially siblings or neighborhood

friends. These "experts" can help answer any questions your child might ask.

-Visit the school and the classroom prior to the first day.

-Introduce your child to the new teacher before the first day of school.

-Use structure to foster independence.

*Establish a regular bedtime at least two weeks before the start of

school.

*Establish an unhurried morning routine to help your child get ready-

and feel ready-to take on the school day.

-Practice the school drop-off and pick-up procedure with your child.

-Play school! Role play imagined school scenes, such as asking restroom

permission or walking quietly in the hall.

-Transitional objects encourage and support the child through the school day.

*Select school supplies together, such as backpacks or lunchboxes.

*Place a family photo or special note inside your child's lunchbox.

-Plan to say good-bye quickly. Children are quick to "pick up" signs of

hesitation by parents and may become upset. MAKE THE SEPARATION CLEAN."

-Take a short time out at the end of the day and discuss your child's big

adventure!

Congratulations! You made it through Day One!

Even the most prepared child may have second thoughts about crossing the threshold of the classroom. He or she may become shy,clingy, or tearful. If a parent anticipates the child may need extra support, discuss your concerns with the teacher BEFORE the first day. Short term support arrangements can be developed between parent, teacher, and other school support personnel, such as the school counselor,should separation difficulties continue beyond the first days of school.

Such arrangements might include:

-Allow the child to bring a "parent surrogate" to school, an object that

provides security to the child, such as a stuffed animal or favorite blanket.

-Arrange to have a friendly face meet your child at the school entrance and escort the student to class. Praise your child for entering the class independently!

Should your child demonstrate distress at separation, keep in mind, most departure behavior ends shortly after the parent departs. Contact your child's teacher later in the day to confirm the length of time your child continues to cry or refuse join the classroom activities. If your child settles down quickly, the chances that departure behavior will improve each day is good, if the parent sticks by the established good-bye routine.

If the teacher reports your child continues to demonstrate distress in ways that impacts your child's participation and enjoyment of the day or is disruptive to the academic environment of fellow classmates, ask for advice from the school on what you ALL can do, as a team, to establish a positive entry into school.

One year or more at school will leave most children feeling more at ease with predictable separations and more confident in their own budding social an cognitive skills. Believe it or not, a week or so into summer vacation, don't be surprised when your child says, "I'm really miss going to school!"

Sheree S. Marty has worked with elementary school children as a school counselor for the past nine years. A physical education teacher for thirteen years, Ms. Marty earned her Master degree in Counseling in 2000. Ms. Marty is the author and owner of "Chinese Jump Rope", a childrens games book and website. For more information, visit http://chinesejumprope.tripod.com


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