Analisa Smith, Early Childhood Committee
The school year is back in full swing. Adapting to new school year changes can be hard for parents, children, and teachers alike. Now that school has been in session for a bit, it is useful to take a step back and look at how children in the early childhood grades and preschool are performing. The tips below can help you to gain perspective and you can help this school year to be one of the best ones yet.
Tips for Parents
- Be positive. Even though children are adjusting or have adjusted to the routine, there may still be moments when the child is afraid to leave the parent’s side or feels apprehensive. Letting your child know you care by providing positive notes in their snacks or bags can be helpful. This lets your child know you are thinking of him or her throughout the day. It also provides them with a positive connection to home.
- Stay prepared. A calendar of events hung where your child can see it easily can help the child to know what will occur throughout the week. For younger children whom have not mastered the ability to read yet, pictures that represent events can be used. It is also helpful to frame the day of the month with a magnetic or similar frame for the day. Children can help plan events for and with the family and see how these intertwine with school. These can also be used for conversation starters to talk to your children about how the school day went or what will happen tomorrow, next week, etc.
- Stick to a schedule. Young children need a schedule. Routine helps them to feel comfortable and know what will happen next. A sleep schedule is also useful to keep in place for the school year. These routines should be adhered to as much as possible during the weekends and on holiday breaks. Homework and review of school day activities should also have a place in the schedule. Someone in the family should try and work with the child or be close by to assist with activities as needed. Sometimes this can be done by a parent or older sibling.
- Keep up with needed supplies. At the beginning of the school year, most children have their school supplies. By the middle of the first semester, some children start to run out of pencils or crayons are broken. This is a good time to check with your child and his/her teacher to make sure your child still has what is needed for school success.
- Discuss things. It can be helpful to children to hear stories of when the parent was in school and experienced similar things that he or she does. This helps them to know the parent understands. Moments like these also allow for opportunities to talk to your child and make connections with them. Try to ask your child about what they learned, about friendships, feelings/apprehensions, etc.
Tips for Teachers
- Keeping up the environment. Teachers work hard at the beginning of the school year to create a welcoming learning environment for the students. As the school year progresses, try to keep the environment welcoming by rotating bulletin boards and learning center activities. This allows the students to want to return to the classroom to learn new skills and keeps them interested. The learning environment of the classroom also sets the tone for how early childhood students adapt to the instruction provided. It helps to keep anxiety levels at bay.
- Open up lines of communication. Communication can be established with parents and caregivers in many ways. Teachers may create electronic or hard copy newsletters. Teachers can use weekly newsletters to parents to recommend activities or books to read that coincide with learning activities in the classroom. Special events and school dates can be shared. Learning tips and methods that can be extended to the home can be noted. Establishing open lines of communication with parents early in the year helps the parents to feel that the learning environment provided for their children is safe. Try to make parents welcome to assist in the class and on field trips, etc.
Make your students comfortable. Learning moments can be held through students sharing about their family and pets, etc. This can be done by sharing pictures, special mementos, or small toys. Children learn speaking skills and how to express themselves and that the classroom is a safe place through such activities. Talk to your students when they are having moments of anxiety so they may learn to express themselves and to be calm while working through the anxiety. Make the classroom a place where your students feel encouraged and safe.