As summer winds down and parents throughout Western New York gear up for the beginning of another school year, they can take proactive steps to make the transition as smooth as possible. The key is to establish schedules and routines early on.
According to Reva Fish, associate professor of social and psychological foundations of education, whose research focuses on early childhood education and play, parents should start gradually adjusting their children’s often chaotic sleep schedules to prepare for the early alarm on the first day of school. To make it less painful, she suggests moving up bedtime in 15- to 30-minute increments during the last week of summer until it matches bedtime for the school year. Likewise, meals should start resembling the schedule they will be eaten on school days. And snacks should be reduced or eliminated based on what will be available during the school day.
"This will prevent children from being distracted by hunger during classroom learning," Fish said.
Another way parents can prepare kids for school is to encourage them to spend some time inside doing quiet activities such as reading, working puzzles, or doing crafts. If they aren’t doing so already, Fish said, parents should limit television and video game time so that children’s minds are ready to engage in shared learning in the classroom.
Fish also is able to address ways in which parents can:
- Establish morning and afternoon routines with children
- Prepare checklists to develop skills independently both at home and school
- Communicate most effectively with a child’s teacher
Connect with the school if a problem arises.
“Even with a great deal of preparation, beginning the school year is hectic for everyone,” Fish said. “By planning ahead and staying flexible, parents will be better able to handle anything unexpected that comes up."