Monday, August 23, 2010

Getting Ready for Elementary School

School starts tomorrow in Hillsborough County! Kids have new clothes, new backpacks and supplies - and hopefully, new and bright attitudes. Be sure to take lots of pictures on the first day of school even if your children act like they don't want you to. It's exciting when everyone is ready for a new beginning - a new school year.

In recent years, there has been a great deal of discussion about school readiness that points to children, schools, families and communities all playing an important role in preparing children for school.

Certainly part of the transition to school involves being prepared with basic numbers, shapes and letters. But that’s not all. Kindergarten teachers surveyed “want kindergartners to be able to communicate needs, wants and thoughts and be enthusiastic and curious when approaching new activities.”

For young children starting elementary school the transition to kindergarten is a big change, even if the child has been in a preschool program. Stress may be brought on by longer days away from parents, a more structured classroom routine, and being separated from friends. Parents should be aware of signs of stress in their children and be prepared to help them make a comfortable transition during this exciting time.

To help your child prepare for school and help reduce their stress, go to the “meet the teacher” day or any special programs for incoming kindergartners. Keep lines of communication open. Help children see the upcoming changes as exciting and fun (but accept a child’s nervous feelings, too). And, be extra supportive during the several weeks of school. Being prepared to help your children navigate those first few weeks can help them get their school year off to a successful start.

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