University of Calgary

Back to school, back to reality

UToday HomeAugust 14, 2013

By Betty Rice

Cynthia Prasow, director of Undergraduate Student Experience in the Faculty of Education, offers practical suggestions for parents to help their children shift their focus from summer activities — such as swimming at Bowview Outdoor Pool — to the classrooCynthia Prasow, director of Undergraduate Student Experience in the Faculty of Education, offers practical suggestions for parents to help their children shift their focus from summer activities — such as swimming at Bowview Outdoor Pool — to the classroom. Photo by Riley BrandtThey’re up until all hours chasing fireflies and frogs, watching movies, and giggling into the night in sleeping bags tucked into tents in the backyard. Their first meal of the day is more often closer to lunch, as they sleep most of the morning away. They’ve travelled far and wide to see new places and connect with family and friends. And they haven’t touched a book in weeks.

But before they know it — in just a few short weeks — they’ll be going back to school.

“The beginning of the school year is like the beginning of a new adventure in the world of learning,” explains Cynthia Prasow. “It’s a chance to meet new friends, connect with old acquaintances and step into the school that has been polished, cleaned and ready to welcome everyone back. There’s always a sense of excitement and anticipation of that first day.

“And it doesn’t have to be traumatic. It’s all in how the parents handle it.”

Prasow, director of Undergraduate Student Experience in the Faculty of Education, has spent many years in the classroom, both teaching and supporting the Faculty of Education’s undergraduate students. She makes some simple, practical suggestions on what parents can do to regulate their child’s schedule and routine, and to help them think positively about going back to school:

  • Begin by leading positive conversations about going back to school. Prasow says, “Just because your children aren’t bringing it up doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about it. A positive outlook is everything in setting the tone for a positive beginning”;
  • Encourage independence, particularly in younger children, to minimize separation anxiety;
  • Drive by the school, especially if it’s a new one. “Take a trial run on the bus,” says Prasow, “or talk about where the new classroom might be if it’s a building they know”;
  • Pick up some new books that will actively engage your child. “There are so many stories about the first day of school, and reading with your child is a great way to lead the back-to-school discussion”;
  • Talk about lunch. Prasow suggest talking about their favourite foods and making sure some of them are on hand, particularly for the first few days;
  • Discuss routines at school, when school starts and ends, and rules regarding behaviour;
  • Have a discussion about what to wear, and make sure those items are ready for the first day;
  • Check the school website for a list of supplies. If not posted, parents can still make an adventure of shopping for required items, such as pens and pencils and crayons, a notebook or two, a new bookbag, or lunch kit. Prasow says it’s good to let the children play with their purchases before school begins. “Most children love to start school with something new.”
  • Establish the back-to-school routine a few days before school begins. This includes sleeping schedules and nighttime and morning routines.

 

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