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Tips and Strategies for the Elementary School Years
As a parent, you know all too well that elementary school is one big adventure. The first-grader in the family is excited about going to school with the big kids; the kids in the other grades are happy to get back into the schoolroom with their friends.
For the most part, these little learners are thrilled about the school days ahead. They've been told for a long time that school is a great deal of fun. They can't wait to get there, or to get back there.
As you start gathering up new clothes, lunch boxes, backpacks and more for the school year ahead, here are some tips to help get things off to a smooth and happy start.
Before School Starts
Make sure to attend your school's open house. This event offers the chance to meet the teachers and help the students get an understanding of the school, the classroom and the things that will be expected of them in the year ahead.
Learn about the school dress code. Some schools have a rigid uniform policy (requiring specific clothing), some schools have a relaxed uniform plan (requiring clothing in specific colors or styles), and some schools simply list attire that's determined to be inappropriate for the classroom (shirts with certain slogans or off-color language, midriff baring tops, etc.).
Spend some time talking with your youngster about clothing and the way it contributes to the creation of that all-important first impression. Think about the child's school day and make certain the clothing choices and the shoes are appropriate for the classroom and the playground. Help your child learn to dress for success, regardless of her or his age.
Make sure you have a copy of the summer reading list well in advance so that your child can work on summer reading in a leisurely manner. You can find a great deal of information on children's books on the American Association of School Librarians web site at www.aasl.org.
Create opportunities to read with your elementary student. Get to know your school and public librarians. During trips to the library, let your child pick out a chapter book just for fun, to keep him or her reading throughout the summer.
Obtain copies of all supply and requirement lists as early as possible. Buy the supplies as soon as you can. Younger students will enjoy taking a look at the new items and learning about their possible uses.
Check the school policy on electronic devices. In some school districts, children are not permitted to bring phones and MP3 players to school.
Communicate with other parents; start a parent networking group. Ask the parents of older students if they have any tips for students of your child's age. Learn from those who have already had the experience.
Although you may not know who's in which class for a while, this is still a good time to build a directory of contacts in the same grade. Gather phone numbers and email addresses. Buddy up now so that you can ask questions later.
Help your youngster practice going to bed on time with a regular sleep schedule well in advance of the start of school. Make sure your child doesn't arrive at school exhausted after staying up until midnight. An extremely tired learner will be unable to absorb anything during the school day.
Establish a plan for a healthy breakfast for your child, especially if she or he is responsible for making the morning meal. Proper nutrition at the start of the day will help a student work well; inadequate nutrition can lead a student to lose a good piece of the morning because he or she is too hungry to function.
Create a nutritious lunch plan for your youngster. Make sure that your child has a good lunch, whether it's brought from home or purchased at the school. If your student is bringing lunch from home, make sure that the food choices are things that she or he is willing to eat. The school lunchroom isn't the place for experimentation; a child must be well-fed to learn well.
Talk about transportation plans with your youngsters. Make sure they understand how they will be getting to school and getting home. Talk about the importance of getting to the bus stop early. Let them know who will be waiting for them when they arrive at the bus stop, car pool location, or at home.
As school gets under way, you can be certain that your little learner will have a great time in the classroom. Keep in mind that, as long as he or she is physically ready - well rested, cleaned up and nutritiously fed - everything else will flow smoothly at school.
-- Kathie Felix
Kathie Felix writes about education for a variety of national news media outlets.