Kids who are starting school for the first time or moving to a new school the course program preparing children for school to cope with the biggest adjustment, but even moving up a grade means facing more academic demands, a new teacher, and a changing social circle. The good news is that a little bit of preparation and forethought–a very little bit, so you can enjoy these last weeks of summer!
Make sure your child is familiar with the school. If she was at the same school last year, great! You only need to talk about any differences this year. Now that you’re in first grade, you get to play on the big kids playground, and go eat in the lunchroom with the other kids. Now that you’ll be in third grade, you’ll have homework every day. Now that you’ll be in middle school, you’ll be walking by yourself.
We’ll need to practice crossing Main Street. But if this is her first year at this school, then you’ll want to take some trips there. Even if there is a formal orientation day just before school begins, start now by taking a trip to the school. If you can get access to the playground, that’s a terrific way to help your child bond with her new school. If not, at least admire it through the fence and get her excited about the slide or climbing structure. If the building is open, by all means walk in together to check it out. You may not get much further than the office, where you can explain that your child will be starting school in the fall and wanted to see what the school was like, and introduce her to the front office staff.
Take advantage of any orientation opportunities. Many schools let new students, especially in the younger grades, come to school for an orientation session before school begins. If the school doesn’t have such a program, ask if you and your child can come by to meet the new teacher for a few minutes a day or so before school starts. Facilitate your child’s bonding with the teacher. All kids need to feel connected to their teacher to feel comfortable in the classroom.
Until they do, they are not ready to learn. Obviously, if you can arrange for your child to meet the teacher in advance, by all means do so. But there are lots of ways to help your child feel like he knows even a teacher he’s never met. Once you find out your child’s classroom assignment, begin talking about the teacher in fond and familiar terms. Williams class, I bet she’ll be impressed with what a great cleaner-upper you are.