Prepare, Plan, Praise
By Margaret Jones, MSW, LCSW
Many parents look forward to sending children back to school in the fall, but it can be a stressful time for kids and parents. Help ensure a smooth back to school transition for your child with the three “P’s”, prepare, plan, and praise. Planning for the start of the school year and helping your child prepare are essential parts of the back to school process. Praising your child for their efforts can build confidence that will help them be successful in school.
Preparing your young child for preschool or kindergarten:
- Make the First Five Count! Make sure you know your child’s strengths and needs by completing an educational screening. Use Easterseals’ online screening tool for kids up to 5 years old.
- Have your child memorize their full name, address, and phone number. Make sure that you have your child practice writing out this information.
- Give your child jobs around the house to get them in the habit of following directions. Help your child develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments by praising them.
- Work with your child on learning letters and numbers.
- Read to your child. Books about starting school are a wonderful way to prepare your child for their first day.
- Talk to your child about your first day of school. Let your child know that even mom and dad felt excited and nervous when starting school.
- Discuss with your child what to expect on the first day of school.
- Use a timer to help your child focus for specific periods of time. This will help them get ready for classroom routines.
- Praise your child during play, encourage them to take turns, wait, and share. This will help them be ready to do those things at school.
- Plan time every day to talk with your child about their experiences at school.
Preparing any age child to return to school:
- Take time to tour the school and meet the teacher, your child can join you for these activities.
- Go school supply shopping with your child. Establish a place in your home where school supplies will be stored so kids know where to put their things.
- Resume school year morning and bedtime routines a few weeks ahead of time so that children are ready when school starts.
- Review the screen time rules for the school year. Determine when, where, and how much screen time your child should have.
- Encourage your child to get involved in activities at school or in the community.
- Find ways to be involved in your child’s classroom or extracurricular activities.
- Plan time every day to talk to your child about their experiences at school.
- Establish a specific place, like an office or the kitchen table, where kids will do their homework.
- Plan an after school schedule for your child that includes snack, relaxation, play, and study.
- Praise your child for their successes at home and school.
Additional Reading and Resources:
- Back to School Resources for Parents – Edutopia
- 101 Back to School Tips for Kids and Parents – Care.com
- Back to School Tips for Parents – PBS
- Back to School Tips – Healthy Children
Margaret Jones, MSW, LCSW
Margaret Jones is a counselor at Easterseals Central Illinois. She is passionate about helping children and families. She has 15 years’ experience working with children. She is also a professor in the School of Social Work at Illinois State University.