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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Six Strategies for Making the Start of School Less Stressful: back to school 2

The beginning of the school year is an exciting time, but for many children and getting back into the swing of things can be difficult. Becoming familiar with new classrooms, classmates, rules, and teachers can be a difficult transition. Below are ideas for starting the new school year well.

1. Return to a School Sleep Schedule - Help children make the transition easier by getting them ready physically for early mornings. A gradual change is often more difficult than an immediate change. The first few days of getting up early and going to bed early may be difficult, but this will be helpful in the long run. Make getting up in the mornings easier by doing fun activities such as going on a walk, making breakfast together, or taking an early bicycle ride.

2. Introduce a New Environment or Re-Introduce a Familiar One: Six weeks go by quickly, but children often forget many important things about school. Make a book with your child to remind them of their classmates’ names, teachers’ names, school layout (dining hall, art room, music room, etc.), bus rules, classroom rules, and school rules. Children can help by drawing pictures or writing the text. For children starting a new classroom or school, hopefully the teacher will send information home that can be used to write a book.

3. Take Opportunities to walk past the School and point out key areas such as the bus stop, hall, playground,and sportsfield (anything you can see).

4. Involve children in preparation - Shopping for a book bag, new shoes, pencil case, and other school necessities can be a fun activity for many families. Help your child write a list of items they need for school. Take the list to the shops and let them pick out their own equipment. The list is a great way to practice reading and writing as well as planning. Give older children a budget to practice their numeracy skills and to learn about decision making and shopping.

5. Plan Ahead - Parents have many things to remember before the school year starts. Make a list and check things off so your stress does not become your child’s stress. Organising medical appointments, buying school equipment and working out the bus schedule in advance will make the days leading up to school more relaxed and less hectic.

6. Create Summer souvenirs – The end of summer can be very sad for many children. To remind them of the summer, get children to create a collage of pictures, objects (e.g. ticket stubs or magazine advertisements of films or places they attended), or drawings. They also can make something for people they will miss. Get them to write letters or make cards for people they will not see regularly during the school year such as relatives and friends from different areas.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

End of Summer Activities to Prepare for the School Year

The start of the school year is an exciting time but the transition back to school can be stressful for many children. Help children prepare for the new school year with these useful strategies.

1. Review Skills and Goals – Review school reports and goals and document progress towards goals. If teachers and support staff provided activities or ideas to address skills, take the time to focus on these prior to school starting. Even small reminders about skills can help prepare children for addressing these in the classroom.

2. Take Advantage of Natural Learning Opportunities - Use natural opportunities to address a wide range of skills such as asking a child to help count silverware while setting the table (counting skills) or asking them to read directions while cooking (reading skills). By keeping a child’s goals top of mind, natural learning opportunities can be easily identified.

3. Use a Calendar for Visual Reminders – Many children benefit from visuals. Mark important events leading up to the start of school on the calendar. Examples of activities to put on the calendar are the first day of school, shopping for school clothes, and buying school materials. Discuss how many days are left until each event and have children participate in planning by helping write shopping lists and decide where to shop.

4. Return to a routine – Summer breaks often are not very structured. Start getting back into a routine so children are more prepared for the school year routine. Sleeping, eating, brushing teeth, bathing, and bedtime rituals are examples of activities typically scheduled at set times in a child’s routine. Work on a consistent timetable to help transition back to school.

5. Use Art and Literature - Get children to draw, make collages, or paint things they remember about the previous school year. Encourage them to write about or discuss what things they like about school and what they are looking forward to in the new school year. Use these memories as visuals to discuss returning to school.

6. Play with Friends from School – Some children regularly see school friends over the summer while others only see school friends during the school year. Organise play dates or have a classroom party to help children become re-acquainted with each other.

7. Enjoy the Rest of the Break – Although planning for the school year is important, make the most of the last few days of summer. Create lasting memories by going on picnics, attending community events, and taking advantage of extra family time. Take pictures to remind children of summer experiences and create a ‘Summer Memory’ book to encourage communication and language. This is a perfect item for show and tell type communication activities at the start of the school year.