Friday, December 26, 2014

First day of school

For many families, Tuesday is a big day - their child’s first day of school or first day at a new school.

First day of school

From the book jacket
From the book jacket

For many families, Tuesday is a big day - their child’s first day of school or first day at a new school.

In a perfect world, you have been talking to your child about this big change and maybe even have visited the new classroom already. But if you’re like me, a working parent who can barely get dinner on the table (actually, my husband usually does that) let alone plan for something weeks in advance, you probably are just thinking about this now as you plan your trip to Target for sharp pencils and new Crayolas.

It’s not too late to do a little emotional prep work, according to Melody Regino, school counselor at Greene Street Friends School, and Michelle Linder-Coates, an executive director in the Office of Early Childhood for the School District of Philadelphia.

Instituting a school schedule at home can help, Regino said. Start having a daily story time and snack time to mimic the school day.

“It would be helpful to even know the terms used at school. Is it snack time? Is it story time,” Regino explained.

Make sure your kids go to bed at the hour they will need to during the school year. Parents often let that slip during the summer, making for tired children in September and October.

Take your child to the school ahead of time, Linder-Coates said. You may even be able to go in the building, see the classroom and meet the teacher, she said.

“Children have separation anxiety not only from their parents but from old and familiar environments, as well,” Linder-Coates said. “They're used to routines.”

You can also read to your child about the change. Regino and Linder-Coates recommended these titles:

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come (also available in Spanish)

Chrysanthemum

The Kissing Hand

When Dinosaurs Go to School

Tomorrow: A few more thoughts on those first days of school and a fun video on the topic.

Miriam Hill
About this blog
In her 12 years at the Inquirer, Miriam Hill has written about everything from politics to gourmet chocolate (Like!) and anxious dogs (adorable trouble).

But only one topic has become a passion: the pleasures and challenges of raising a young child in the city.

Not too long after her son was born four years ago, she started hunting around for day care, which triggered her ongoing search for a good primary school. Public, private or charter? Stay in the city or move to the suburbs?

And then there are the more mundane questions, such as how many games can you play while sitting on a stoop?

Please join her in the conversation about raising children in Philadelphia and about making this city better for kids. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, but her only personal obsession is not football, but Bruce Springsteen. As he might have said, it’s hard to be a parent in the city.

You can also follow Miriam on Twitter here.

Miriam Hill
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