Janesville75.2°

Educators: Start preparing your kids for school now

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Catherine W. Idzerda
August 20, 2011
— Parents, take a few deep breaths.

Soon kids will be back in school and so preoccupied by homework, clothes, activities and what Taylor said to Madison that they’ll have less time to develop new ways to get on your nerves.


To reduce the grumbling, whining and anxiety that often accompany the annual summer-to-school transition, educators advise parents to start preparing now.


Daily routines

“Start working with kids now, getting them into routines,” said Kelly Pickel, principal of Turtle Creek Elementary School in Delavan.


That means:


--Structured bed times, and getting kids up a little earlier.


--Routine meal hours. During the summer, kids graze throughout the day. They won’t have that chance at school.


--Re-establishing “study” habits. Encourage older kids to do some fun reading everyday. Read to younger kids, or have them read to you.


Younger students

For kids going to school for the first time, take steps to ease first-day jitters, Pickel said.


--Involve them in picking out school supplies.


“Talk to kids about the supplies,” Pickel said. “Talk to them about what the supplies might be used for, or why, even though their name is on a box of Kleenex or crayons, they might share those supplies with others.”


--Visit the bus stop and talk to them about who will be there in the afternoon to meet them.


Transitions

For students going to a new school, middle or high school:


--Introduce them to their new surroundings.


“If it’s at all possible, visit the school,” Pickel said.


Many schools have open houses in August for students to see their rooms and meet their teachers.


--Talk to teachers. If your child is the student who does not like to raise his or her hand, has trouble sitting still or forgets his or her homework unless it’s written down, let the teachers know.


The transition to middle and high school is just as challenging for kids.


“In elementary school, parents are often very active,” said Mark Weerts principal at Phoenix Middle School. “In middle school they’re less so, and their kids don’t want them there.”


After the first day

--Take advantage of events such as open houses. Talk to teachers, either in person or electronically, and stay connected to kids.


“It’s important to stay involved in kids development,” Weerts said. “I’m not suggesting some kind of nanny state, but staying in tune with them, with their electronic communication.”


--Do occasional backpack checks to make sure school announcements haven’t become part of the squashy mix of old homework and candy wrappers at the bottom of the bag.


--Encourage kids to form new alliances or explore new interests at school.


“The students that have been successful in middle school are connected—to band, a sport, a club or a teacher,” Weerts said.


Part of middle school is about establishing an identity, finding our what your values and beliefs are, he said.



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