Monthly Archives: August 2009

Getting Ready for the Big Day…the First Day of School

The First day of school is fast approaching…Your child may be nervous and needs your reassurance now more than ever.

  • Tell your child stories about when you went to school.  Talk about school many times during the days and weeks leading up to the start of school. Listen to your child’s excitement, or fear or anxiety and offer reassurance about that first day.
  • Be positive and tell your child that school is a good place.
  • Read age appropriate books about the first day of Kindergarten.
  • Plan a relaxing day the day before school starts. Don’t rush back from a family vacation or other exciting experience.
  • Remember, dress for success!  Help your child pick out a comfortable outfit for the first day of school. (see my blog from August 15)
  • There may be children in your neighborhood going to the same school.  Get together with them and their parents so the kids will have a chance to get to know each other before school starts.
  • Visit the school before school starts. Visit the playground and look in any windows that might be on the ground floor so your child can see what a classroom looks like.
  • Make sure you go to Parent Orientation and that your child goes to Open House.
  • Promise your child a reward during the first week of school if they can give you the name or names of children that they met during that day
  • Fix your child’s favorite breakfast for the first day of school.
  • Place your child on the bus, but if you have to drive (that one day only!) be sure to make the drop off quick (see my blog from August 26)

Don’t be surprised if, even after all of your preparations, your child refuses to leave your side on the first day of school.  Crying can be a healthy way of coping in very young children, so stay calm!

Have a great first day of school!


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“What Did You Do In School Today?”

“What did you do in school today?”  Your child will look right at you and say “nothing!” This familiar question is asked by most parents when their children walk through the door at the end of the day, however, nothing, is not the answer parents are looking for.  It takes a great deal of thought for a 4,5 or even 6 year old to remember events that took place hours ago at school.  As a parent you would elicit the type of response that you are looking for if you ask pointed questions:

  1. What book did the teacher read today?
  2. What was it about, what was the best part of the story?
  3. What song did you sing at school today?
  4. What games did you play?
  5. What centers did you go to today?
  6. Which one was your favorite?
  7. Did you go to Art, Music, PE or the Library?
  8. What friend did you play with today?  (Keep in mind at the start of Kindergarten your child will not be able to name any names but he/she can describe this new friend to you)
  9. Did you go out to play on the playground?

Your child will hear your question and then remember something that he/she did at school today and you will be able to begin a conversation about it.  Please be sure to share your experiences with your child about your day as well.  Today I ______ and I had to ___________.  If your child comes home with a story that seems mighty imaginative, be sure to check with your child’s teacher to see if that event really did happen or was just a form of a tall tale.

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Setting Up Play Dates for Your Kindergartner

Once school begins for your child you will want to meet parents of your child’s classmates and start to schedule play dates for your child. In preschool it was easier to meet the other parents since you saw most of them every day at school.   Now that your child is in elementary school it is a little harder to meet those other parents but you can do it:

  • Most schools have an active PTA or PTO which you should join so you can meet other parents and become an active participant and perhaps a volunteer  in your child’s school
  • Some classes send out a roster that included all of the names and phone numbers of the children in the class which can be used for setting up play dates and sending out birthday party invitations (be sure to check with your child’s teacher in the event that you do not wish to be included on this class roster)
  • Some schools make a directory of all families in the school, again to be used for play dates
  • Once the school year begins, please encourage a play date for your child as soon as possible.  Children need opportunities to just ‘play’ and they should practice playing with another child that is about the same age.
  • Ask your child who he/she sits next to at school, or talks to, or rides the bus with, or plays with, etc.  You might have to do some detective work to find out the names of these children since learning names of classmates takes kindergarten children a long time.  Your child’s teacher might be able to help you figure out which friend your child is describing to you.
  • If you are not comfortable sending your child into a home where you don’t know the parents, invite the Mom/and or Dad to come to your house with their child so that all parties can meet each other and decide if a play date will be a good idea for the children.  Or you could agree to meet at a public location such as the neighborhood playground.

This website gives some very useful tips on scheduling play dates for your children.  It is geared to single parents; however, the tips are perfect for any and all parents looking to set up play dates for their children.

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Things Teachers Want You to Know

I found this article and wanted to include it in my blog.  These really are great suggestions that most teachers want you to know.

Ten Things Teachers Want You to Know

By Mimi Doe

Many teachers have written to me over the years, frustrated with how unprepared their students are—and they don’t mean academically. Chris, a kindergarten teacher, wrote what many teachers have expressed, “I would love it if you could write a 10 tips for parents to help us teachers do our increasingly demanding job. Many parents of children I teach have left the job of spiritual, character, and social/emotional education to me. I can’t do it all in addition to teaching academic skills. I’m getting burned out and pretty soon won’t have the energy left to nourish one child let alone 25.”

So here goes—my 10 tips:

1. Create a smooth takeoff each day. Give your child a hug before she ventures out the door and you head to work. Look her in the eye, and tell her how proud you are of her. Your child’s self-confidence and security will help her do well both in school and in life.

2. Prepare for a happy landing at the end of the day when you reconvene. Create a predictable ritual such as 10–20 minutes listening to your child talk about his day—before you check phone messages, read the mail, or begin dinner. That way you are fully present to listen, and your child has a touchstone he can count on between school and home.

3. Fill your child’s lunchbox with healthy snacks and lunches. Have dinner at a reasonable hour and a healthy breakfast. A well-balanced diet maximizes your child’s learning potential.

4. Include calm, peaceful times in your children’s afternoons and evenings. Maintain a schedule that allows them to go to school rested, and if they are sick, have a system in place so they are able to stay home.

5. Remember it’s your children’s homework, not yours. Create a specific homework space that’s clutter-free and quiet. Encourage editing and double-checking work, but allow your kids to make mistakes, as it’s the only way teachers can gauge if they understand the material. It’s also how children learn responsibility for the quality of their work.

6. Fill your child’s life with a love for learning by showing him your own curiosity, respecting his questions, and encouraging his efforts.

7. Fill your home with books to read, books simply to look at, and books that provide answers to life’s many questions. The public or school library is an excellent resource.

8. Be a partner with your child’s teacher. When you need to speak to him or her in reference to a specific issue with your child, do it privately, not in front of your child. Make a point never to criticize your child’s teacher in front of your child.

9. Set up a system where routine items are easily located—such as backpacks, shoes, signed notices. Create a central calendar for upcoming events to avoid the unexpected.

10. Tuck a “love note” in your child’s lunch bag to let her know how special she is. Knowing they are loved makes it easier for children to be kind to others.

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Chapter Books for Dads to Read to Kindergartners

In July I wrote about the importance of reading to your child every day.  I would like to stress the importance of Dads reading to their children whenever possible.  Many moms are the story readers/story tellers in their house and I would just like to ask Dads to step in as well.  Both you and your child will benefit from the closeness shared while enjoying a story together at the end of the day.  Chapter books are especially fun since you only read a chapter (or more) a night, your child happily knows that more will be read the next night.  I have found a website that lists Kindergarten Read Aloud Chapter Books for children to share with their Dads. The site also lists chapter books appropriate for other ages as well. Take a look and see if you can find a book to share with your child.

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The First Day of Kindergarten – the Parent’s Role

Well you have prepared and prepared and you think that there can’t possibly be anything left to do to get ready for the first day of school for your Kindergartner.  You have shopped for supplies, bought a new backpack, bought new school clothes, gave your child a new haircut and now you are ready.  So you think, .. but are you? Are you really ready?  Have you thought about how your child will get to school?  Will you allow your child to ride the bus to school?  I hope the answer is yes.  The best way to start the school year is with the bus, because I speak from years of observing parental behavior, once you become a taxi for your child, it is almost impossible to switch him/her to the school bus. School buses are a safe way to travel to and from school and many of your child’s friends will be on the bus as well. (After reading this blog a  friend suggested that I should remind parents not to follow the bus because your child will see you and possibly become upset)  IF, and that is a big IF, if you decide to drive your child and deliver him/her to his/her classroom on the first day only, your job is to give a hug, then give a kiss and then say good bye and leave.  When you hover and watch and wait for possible reactions from your child, he/she will get the message that you anticipate him/her needing you.  Look around, most of the other parents will not be there and your child will be just fine with the teachers.  Your child will either walk in very confidently, or be a little emotionally needy.  Believe me, those first day jitters are mostly a show for Mom and Dad, and the minute that Mom or Dad walk away, the children usually settle right in.  Get ready, your child AND you are in for a wonderful year together in Kindergarten, let your child’s wings start to grow on the very first day.

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Playing Cards Develop Reasoning, Mathematical and Social Interaction Skills in Young Children

Playing cards can be a great deal of fun for young children.  Many reasoning, mathematical and social interaction skills can be developed and reinforced by playing cards.  Simply buy a deck of playing cards (the kind adults use to play cards) and teach your child a few simple games.

  1. He/she can sort the cards, by color, by shape or by number
  2. He/she can play fish.  The object of the game is to collect matches of cards and collect more cards than the other player.  Deal out 7 cards to each person and then hold the cards in your hands.  The players take turns asking each other for a card that might match a card in his/her hand.  If the opposite player has a match for the card the child who asked for it, takes the card and now has a match.  When this happens he/she may ask for another card.  When a child asks and the opponent does not have a match, the opponent says “go fish.”  (which means take a card from the pile of cards that have not been used yet) If the card taken from the ‘go fish’ pile is a match, the person continues to draw another card, but if the card is not a match, the opponent now takes a turn asking.  The process then repeats itself.  When a player runs out of cards he/she may take 3 more from the ‘go fish’ pile.  When the pile is completely gone the game continues until all matches in the hands are matched.  The person with the most matches wins.
  3. War, or Challenge, whichever you prefer to call it.  Deal out the entire deck evenly between 2 players.  Each person keeps their stack of cards face down in a pile and then together both players flip over one card, the person with the highest card showing wins both cards.  If the cards match, then the players count out 2 cards facing down and turn over the 3rd card.  The person with the highest cards gets all of the cards on the table.  This game usually goes on and on and on and ends when one person just tires out.
  4. Playing cards is a good time for your child to practice social etiquette skills and learn to take turns and to be a good player and a good sport about winning or losing.
  5. Get out that deck of cards and see what fun you and your child can have tonite.

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