Wednesday, August 09, 2000

Help the kids adjust to school


Setting routines, buying supplies prepares students

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        With school just a few short weeks away in most area districts, it's time to psych up the kids for the first big day.

        That means taking them shopping for school supplies, accompanying them on tours to a new school, adding structure to their daily activities, getting them to bed early — or anything else to snuff out back-to-school jitters.

        “Some kids adjust really well to change, but some have trouble getting adjusted to the structure of the school year,” said Jill Goldberg-Arnold, a child psychologist at Ohio State University and Harding Behavioral Healthcare and Medicine.

        Parents can make the transition a lot smoother, Dr. Goldberg-Arnold said.

GETTING READY
  Kids sometimes experience stress about going back school. Here are some tips for parents to get kids prepared:
  • Start by getting children on the same sleep schedule as when they are in school.
  • Take children shopping for school supplies and clothes.
  • Add more structure to children's summer days so they are prepared to be back on a schedule when school starts.
  • If a child is starting at a new building or another school district, take the child to the playground on school grounds or a tour of the new facility to make the new place less scary.
  • If a child seems anxious, don't dismiss fears. Talk to the child to find a solution and solve the problem.
        In addition to getting kids to go to bed early, parents should practice the routine of school, she said.

        Lenise Davis is readying her son Bryant, 6, by taking him to the library every Thursday to prime him for starting first grade at Schiel Primary School for Arts Enrichment on Aug. 29.

        Sometimes he checks out books. This past Thursday, Bryant selected two videos but also worked on the computer.

Back to the routine
        “He doesn't have a computer at home,” Ms. Davis said. “They do have a computer at school and this gives him a chance to work on the computer.”

        Ms. Davis also sends Bryant to bed earlier.

        “It's so he can get into the routine of school,” she said.

        Getting kids back in the practice of learning is important, Whitaker Elementary Principal Deb Semenick said. Reading is key, but don't forget to work on math, she said.

        Something she never thought about as a parent was to reacclimate her child to the summer heat, she said.

        Whitaker Elementary in Finneytown is not air-conditioned, and kids sometimes come back to school ill-prepared for a hot and humid classroom, she said.

        “Start spending time outside, out of the air-conditioning,” Ms. Semenick suggested to parents.

        She prepares herself by turning off the air-conditioner or spending time in the garden.

        Ms. Semenick also suggested preparing kids for potentially daunting new experiences. If a child has to walk to school this year for the first time, practice the route, she said.

        And if they have to carry backpacks, discuss a routine for packing it every night before school and putting it in an easy-to-find location for the following morning.

Give kids information
        “The more information a parent can give to kids, the less the anxiety,” Ms. Semenick said.

        First days can brim with anxiety, but parents can ease their child's worry, Newport A.D. Owens Elementary Principal Greg Frank said.

        Parents should start talking with their kids about the school experience weeks before school starts, he said.

        “Emphasize the positive,” Mr. Frank said, ”and the excitement of beginning school.”

       



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