Riley Brandt, University of Calgary
Nine tips for preparing children to return to school
Do not delay in setting the stage for success, advises Werklund School’s Cynthia Prasow
Primary years are critical in a child’s development and, as students are set to return to the classroom, parents and teachers should already be preparing young learners for success, says Werklund School of Education Director of Student Experience Cynthia Prasow.
“Early childhood is a time of brain development, cognitive, emotional, social and physical development. It is imperative that educators create meaningful and complex learning environments that engage children in holistic, interdisciplinary and integrative approaches to learning.”
But the onus for creating an environment conducive to scholastic achievement does not fall solely on the teacher. Parents play an important role as well.
“Parents are the best advocates for their children,” says Prasow, MEd’92. “It is important that they stay informed as to what is going on in schools and in the community and greater province with respect to education.”
Prasow advises parents not to wait until the first day of classes to become involved in their child’s education but to immediately begin readying them for the start of the school year. She offers a few practical suggestions for ensuring students go back to school on the right foot:
- 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 behavior.
- 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.