Monday, August 19, 2013

are you ready for school?

The school year is almost upon us... are you prepared? This year, our family will be entering a new chapter - our little girl is growing up and will be attending school for the very first time. As parents, we only want the best for our children and, with that said, preparing our children for what lies ahead in their school years can be one of the best services we can provide them. Whether you have a first time student or are getting your children out of summer vacation mode and back into their school routine, it is challenging. After speaking to several parents, attending seminars and preparation courses, I can now share with all of you a few tips to better prepare ourselves and our children for the coming year:

-Establish a set bed time
Sleep affects our children's mood, health and ability to learn. Often, children get used to staying up late during summer months. Rather than letting them struggle when school arrives which could leave them tired during the first few weeks of school, prepare by gradually transitioning them into a bed-time routine.

-Establish a morning routine
Practise having your child wake up at the time required during the school year. Guide them through their morning routine by reminding them to get dressed, complete hygiene-related tasks, eat breakfast, pack school bag including lunch, then wait at the bus stop, walk or drive to school. Completing the following tasks will allow your child to feel comfortable with their new routine when the time comes to put it into place.

-Develop new lunch habits
For some, this will be the first time they will experience a packed lunch. Prepare your child's lunch and place into a lunch container. Have your child find it in their school bag, practice opening and closing containers. Discuss what foods should been eaten as snack and what should be eaten as their main meal.

-Visit the school
Most schools have the opportunity for children to come and view the facility, meet their teachers, and locate important rooms such as their classroom and washrooms. Familiarize your child with were they will be dropped off and picked up - this will help ease the first time jitters and also has safety benefits.

-Ride a bus
For many, your child will spend a significant portion of their day on a school bus. They will socialize, play, sleep and/or study on the bus. Reduce anxiety with riding the bus by boarding a bus at the school – should that option not be available, head to a museum and ask one of the many school bus drivers, likely parked out front and bored, if they can give you a tour of the bus.

-Encourage open discussion
Many children and parents both have anxiety about the coming year. It is important for our children to know the lines of communication are open any time they may need them. Creating discussion around issues that may be bothering them allows you to solve insecurities before they become larger problems.

-Names and address
For children who may be taking the school bus, it is important your child is able to communicate their name, parents' names and their home address. Many children are used to saying mommy and daddy but they could be placed in an emergency situation where they will need to know full names. Knowing their address is important if they were accidentally dropped off at the wrong location or they have a supply driver who is unsure of their location.

Going back to school or going to school for the first time can be a wonderful or traumatizing experience for a child that they will remember for the rest of their life. Luckily, we have an opportunity as parents to enable a positive experience and lay the ground work for a happy and healthy school life.

Happy back-to-school!
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