Kids (4-12)

Getting Your Child Ready for School

Are you ready to send your child to school? Is your child ready to go to school? Here are some things to think about as you try to answer those questions:

Getting Your Child Emotionally Ready:

  • Be sure to reassure him that you will miss him and understand that he will miss you too. You may even want to gradually get him used to spending time away from you by having him spend more time with a babysitter or at a friend’s house.
  • Also, keep your own anxieties in check. Your child will most likely pick up on any strong emotions that you have.
  • If possible, let your child visit his school before classes start. Walk around and get him accustomed to the school grounds and his classroom.
  • Let him meet his new teacher and principal. Work on developing self-confidence and independence in your child.
  • Small things such as letting him choose from two different clothing options or having him put up his toys will teach him how to do things for himself.
  • Be sure to praise your child when he accomplishes a task on his own.

If he’s experiencing anxiety over starting school, consider visiting your library or local bookstore for children’s books on the first day of school. Or perhaps an older sibling or friend can encourage your child and help him know what to expect. But, realize that maybe your child is not emotionally ready.

Research shows that most children who do not attend pre-school do fine once they begin kindergarten, so don’t let academic anxiety for your child cause you to start him in school before he’s ready. It’s easy to get caught up in what other parents are choosing for their children, but really, being with a loving parent is wonderful too.

Getting Your Child Physically Ready:

  • You will want to check with your school district for any regulations regarding health check-ups and immunization records. You may need to show proof that your child is up-to-date on his vaccines.
  • If your child stays up late at night, start getting him on his new sleep schedule a few weeks before school begins.
  • You may also need to adjust naptime according to the school’s schedule. Remember, young children need 10 – 12 hours of sleep a day.

Getting Your Child Socially Ready: Good manners are essential to developing friendships.

  • Teach and model the basics such as saying “please” and “thank you.” And be sure your child knows to treat people with respect, including those who are different from him.
  • You may also want to make sure your child knows how to share toys, and that you have worked on any tattling issues he may have.

Getting Your Child Academically Ready:

  • Beginning good study habits now will help your child down the line. For example, while your child may not have homework yet, help prepare him for the concept of nightly homework by starting a reading time each night.
  • Help him learn organization and time management by preparing for school the night before. Develop a nightly checklist for him that includes tasks such as deciding what he will wear the next day, taking his bath and brushing his teeth.
  • Be sure he is well-rested and he eats a nutritional breakfast in the morning.
  • Invest in a few fun, educational games that you can play at home. Many educational games will help teach your children skills, such as decision-making and strategy, and others will teach them facts, such as colors or geography. You may want to talk with his teacher on recommended games that would complement the school’s teaching plan.
  • Taking Additional Time In some cases, a child may just not be ready for school. In this case, an additional year of socializing and training may be needed before he enrolls.
  • Talk with your child’s doctor and any other adults familiar with your child, as well as the school’s principal or teacher, and find out if they think your child is ready. Some areas of concern include the following: severe separation anxiety, extreme moodiness, short attention span, lack of fine motor skills (such as cutting or coloring), disruptiveness, lack of socialization skills and poor bladder control.

The Big Day:

On the first day of school, start the day off right with a special breakfast. Let him wear a favorite, comfortable outfit (make sure it is one he can easily unfasten when going to the bathroom). Take your child to his class and make sure he has been introduced to his teacher. Take along a camera to get a picture, and give him a big hug good-bye. Be sure to let your child know that you are proud of him. In order to keep his anxieties low, be sure to keep yourself calm and positive around your child, and don’t procrastinate or show worry over leaving the classroom.

This article is based on information from Focus on the Family ( © 2006 iMom. All rights reserved.

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