Over the last several years, we’ve had suggestions from guidance counselors, teachers, books, and just plain experience as to what can be done to prepare for the new school year.
I know it’s scary. It’s frightening to think about good years and bad years and what kind of year this will be.
Hopefully, a little bit of pre-schooltime preparation can help make the transition easier.
- Arrange with the teacher/guidance counselor, if possible, to visit the classroom more than once before the start of school.
- Bring backpack and lunch to open house, and practice walking in the classroom and putting them where they belong, as if it was actually a day at school.
- Ask what the morning routine is, and practice it. For example, sit down and look at the board for bellwork, finish, then pull out journal for daily entry (or whatever).
- Walk – or at least talk – through a typical day.
- Discuss the meaning of objects/aids like Smiley faces to indicate talking time and frowny to indicate silence. Or disciplinary systems like green/red cards.
- Ask the teacher where on the board page #s and important information will be placed. Make sure the child is familiar with this, and can easily point to those places on the board.
- Locate pencil sharpeners, kleenex boxes, and other important hardware. Knowing where these are ahead of time may prevent panic and meltdowns.
- Find out now if any special equipment will be used – like whiteboards or card systems – by the children, and practice using them. The teacher won’t have time later to show people individually how to do so.
- Go over any classroom rules while on location… they’ll make more sense and be easier to remember.
- Discuss bathroom rules and hall passes. Often teachers take it for granted that kids know all about them and can easily adjust to changes from year to year.
- Don’t panic. Stay calm and happy, and keep things positive, even if everything seems a little overwhelming.
- Walk to the front lobby and let the child know that this is where he/she needs to go if lost or confused.
- Hand out those snapshot brochures to all teachers, especially specials teachers (PE, Art, Music, etc), and guidance counselor, and anyone else you feel is appropriate.
- Walk from classroom to library and back. Or classroom to music room and back.
- Identify a safe person to go to if the child needs help or advice. This can be a guidance counselor, homeroom teacher, autism coordinator, speech therapist, whomever.
- Make sure the weekly (or daily) schedule is put somewhere the child can easily find (like on the front of a notebook). Not knowing what’s happening next can be terrifying.
- If you haven’t already done so, find out what kind of headings the teacher likes on papers, and practice that at home (for example: name, date, subject on upper right of paper).
- I like to then get teacher’s emails and send out a letter to each of them, introducing myself (briefly) and letting them know I support them and would like to be kept in the loop.
Yes, there are many more things that can be accomplished, depending on the time allotted.
Depending on the individual, some – or many – of these suggestions can be completely eliminated. Not everyone needs to practice hanging up a backpack or walking to the art room.
It’s also good to point out former friends (if they haven’t already noticed them) and friendly-looking people. I left this out of my list because I have faith that most parents would do this in any case. 😉
If you have additional suggestions, I welcome them. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few – my brain’s like a sieve – and would also benefit from another person’s point of view.