Helping Your Child Prepare for the Start of School in August
The mere thought of starting school is often anxious making for adults and child alike. You wonder how your child will do. You wonder how you will do!
The following is a brief (and hardly comprehensive list) of some of the things that you can and should be doing to help your child — and you — prepare for a successful start at MCS in August. Many of the suggestions can apply to Elementary children as well as those in Toddler and Stepping Stones.
- Drive by MCS off and on during the summer. Point it out and say, “That’s where you’ll be going to school.”
- Take a picture of the school and put it on the refrigerator.
- If your child has had little or no group experience, find some kind of group for her/him over the summer that s/he can participate in with you, like a reading hour at the library or an age-appropriate summer recreation program.
- If you are nervous or have questions, call the school. That will help diminish your own anxiety so that you do not telegraph your fears to your child.
- Acknowledge and talk about your own feelings, particularly working parents who wish they could be home more, or parents who wish that time would slow down! (“I don’t want my baby to grow up quite yet!”).
- Having conquered your own anxieties, exude confidence about the transition. If you are hesitant, your child will lose self-confidence.
- Recognize that sometimes even the most social of children is anxious about transitions.
- Use the summer to build up trust and experience by increasing one-on-one summer time with your child in joint activities that include lots of eye contact.
- Simultaneously, find opportunities for “mini” separations where your child feels (and is) safe and comes to believe that when you say you will return, you do ( “I’m going upstairs to make the bed now. I’ll be down in a few minutes” ).
- Talk about school with your child ( “What do you think school will be like?”).
- At least two weeks before the start of school, reestablish a “school-year” supper, evening, and reasonable-hour bedtime routine that stresses family activity, reading aloud, and quiet time to snuggle. Minimize or eliminate TV, video, and other isolating activities. Start to get up at “school time” and have a hot breakfast together. Studies show that children in families that eat together achieve better.
We gratefully acknowledge Prepping for Pre-School by Barbara F. Meltz for many of these ideas.