Monday, August 24, 2009

Back to school here we go...

apple and books

Back to School

I thought I would switch gears now since many schools in the area are starting this week and thoughts of a family vacation seem to be-temporarily-behind us. As both a mother and teacher, I have a very unique perspective when it comes to getting kids ready for the first day of school, and I hope this will help you as well.
Mentally preparing the kids should really begin prior to that first day back, and a good place to start is by helping to equip your son or daughter with the right tools for the job. At the elementary level in our school district, the teachers often send a letter or post card greeting, along with suggested supplies needed for class. I take these lists very seriously because an ill-prepared student that is a step behind his peers at the start of school may remain a step behind throughout the year, and, as your child gets older, that preparation will help promote that “sameness” amongst him and his peers. It also starts getting your son or daughter thinking about the job ahead, and lets face it, until they start to earn their way in this world, their primary “job” should be their education.

The "fun"

But let’s not forget the “fun” factor in all this, because each year is a fresh new start, and kids really do enjoy being able to pick out materials that are both useful and that make a statement about who they are. My daughter is entering 5th grade, so her school supplies had to have more of a serious student vibe to them. The pink flowers of last year were replaced by bold geometric designs in orange and magenta hues-not pink-, while my son clings desperately to his picks from his kindergarten year-all things super hero, as he enters the scary world known as first grade.bookbags

Have a budget

Yes, I take this seriously, but not so seriously that it breaks the budget. My daughter and I scouted the Sunday circulars for listed items then with these circled items in hand, we went to those designated stores only, and I think we fared pretty well. We hit Big Lots for unique folders and three ring binders, Wal-Mart for the backpacks, color-coordinated ruler and protractor, and everyday items like paper and pencils, and we hit Target for things we couldn’t find in the other two stores. Then my two gathered their supplies, labeled and loaded their binders, and took their first mental steps to getting ready for school.

However, there should also be some prep work on the part of the parent as well. A foundation of teamwork should be laid with your child’s teacher before school, if possible, so that if any problem comes up during school, you can do the work as teammates instead of opponents. If your school has one, attend the back to school meetings and make sure to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher. Since I have the added privilege of being both parent and teacher, I know what it’s like to have your best interests for a child misunderstood by a parent who you have never had contact with until there was a problem, and I know that there is always to sides to every story, so if a conflict arises between one of my kids and the teacher, I try to put my parental feelings aside-not an easy task-and wait to talk to the teacher for clarification.


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