From Home to School
Whether it’s first day of school or the 100th, creating a smooth home-to-school transition will help your child start each day off right.
Preview the School. In the weeks leading up to the first day, visit your child’s school, tour the classroom, and meet her teacher. Afterward, talk about who she’ll see, what she’ll do, and what she’ll learn at school, so she’s mentally prepared.
Spend Time on Social Skills. Working with other kids and solving problems independently are important aspects of every grade. During the summer, set up opportunities for your child to play with other kids, suggests Claire King, associate director of the Indiana University Center for P-16 Research and Collaboration. As she plays, encourage her to solve problems independently, instead of relying on adults to solve every issue.
Start a Back-and-Forth Journal. A notebook that your child carries from home to school can be helpful, says Chris Maxwell, director of the Erikson Institute’s New Schools Project. Each morning, write a short note, such as, “Last night, we read Cinderella and loved it!” The teacher will use that information to connect with your child, and send a short note home so you can talk about his day at school. “It’s not a daily report card,” says Maxwell, “but a way to keep information flowing between parents and teachers.”
Give Your Child Reminders. If your child’s after school schedule changes daily, King suggests coming up with a system of reminders. Put a flower sticker on his lunch bag if he’s going to grandma’s after school, or a smiley face sticker if it’s the day he goes to an after school program.
From Grade to Grade. As your child moves from grade to grade, he’ll move from teacher to teacher, and often experience different work and behavior expectations. Make sure the connection between grades is strong with these strategies.
Set Up Home-to-School Routines. If one teacher has a routine that was helpful—sending homework folders home each day as a form of communication, for example—ask the next teacher if you can keep up that routine.
Whether your child is moving from home to school for the first time, or are going from first to second grade, with support and collaboration, transitions can be an exciting part of watching your child grow up.