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Plan ahead to go back to school with (some) peace


Last updated 8/14/2019 at 3:44pm | View PDF

A new school year is beginning (yikes!), marking the annual abrupt end to summer vacation and the frenzied first day approach. This week’s expert, District 181 teacher Jessica Schultz, offers useful advice on starting the year strong (see Page 14). Here are some other tips that can smooth out re-entry, courtesy of

• Meet the new teacher

One of the biggest back-to-school fears is “Will I like my new teacher?” Break the ice early by taking advantage of a school open house or back-to-school night.

Some teachers welcome phone calls or e-mails — another great opportunity to get to know each other before the year begins. Also, try locating the teacher’s picture on a school website or in a yearbook to put the name with a face. If the teacher sends a welcome letter, be sure to read the letter together.

• Tour the school

If the school hosts an open house, be sure to go. Becoming familiar with the environment will go a long way toward settling a nervous stomach on the first day. Meet the teacher together, find his or her desk, or explore the playground. Ask older children returning to a school to lead the tour. This will help refresh all of your memories.

• Connect with friends

A familiar friend can make all the difference when heading back to school. Consider calling parents from last year’s class and finding out who will be classmates. Refresh these relationships before school starts by scheduling a play date or a school carpool.

• Tool up

Having the right tools is key. While keeping basic needs in mind, allow for a couple of splurges like a cool notebook or a favorite-colored pen. These simple pleasures make going back to school a lot more fun. Get your child excited about upcoming projects by explaining how new supplies might be used, and practice using ones that are unfamiliar to build a sense of comfort for use in class.

• Avoid last-minute drilling

While it is important to support learning throughout the summer, don’t spend the last weeks of summer vacation reviewing last year’s curriculum. All kids need some down time before the rigors of school begin. For some kids, last-minute drills can heighten anxiety, reminding them of what they’ve forgotten instead of what they remember. Giving clear messages is important; chat about today’s events and tomorrow’s plans.

• Ease into the routine

Switching from a summer to a school schedule can be stressful to everyone in the household. Avoid first-day-of-school mayhem by practicing your routine a few days in advance. Set the alarm clock, go through your morning rituals, and get in the car or to the bus stop on time. Routines help children feel comfortable, and establishing a solid school routine will help iron out those back-to-school bumps.


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