Monday, 26 August 2013

About that Time

With the summer winding down, its time to start thinking about education matters once again. Staff have already begun prepping for the arrival of students next week.  Despite the popular myth that many people dread the return to classes and the re-introduction of fall routines, there is also a real sense of anticipation. and even some excitement building for the first day of school.  Regardless of whether thoughts of back to school excite kids, or give them the jitters, there are many things parents can do to help get them ready.

"The beginning of the school year is like the beginning of a new adventure in the world of learning,” explains Cynthia Prasow, director of Undergraduate Student Experience in the Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary.  In an article entitled Back to School, Back to Reality!  Prasow points out that going to school is  “a chance to meet new friends, connect with old acquaintances and step into the school that has been polished, cleaned and ready to welcome everyone back. There’s always a sense of excitement and anticipation of that first day.  And it doesn’t have to be traumatic. It’s all in how the parents handle it.”

Prasow offers some simple, practical suggestions on what parents can do to regulate student schedules and routines, and to help them think positively about going back to school:
  • Begin by leading positive conversations about going back to school. A positive outlook is everything in setting the tone for a positive beginning
  • Encourage independence, particularly in younger children, to minimize separation anxiety
  • Drive by the school, especially if it’s a new one.
  • Pick up some new books that will actively engage your child.
  • Talk about lunch. Talking about favorite foods and making sure some of them are on hand, particularly for the first few days can take the worry out of lunch breaks
  • Discuss routines at school, when school starts and ends, and rules regarding behavior;
  • Have a discussion about what to wear, and make sure those items are ready for the first day;
  • Check the school website for a list of supplies. If not posted, parents can still make an adventure of shopping for required items, such as pens and pencils and crayons, a notebook or two, a new bookbag, or lunch kit.
  • Establish the back-to-school routine a few days before school begins. This includes sleeping schedules and nighttime and morning routines.
Its also interesting to see that many retailers tap into the excitement of the new school year.  The Wall Street Journal reports a survey by US clothing company Lands End suggested that shopping for school supplies and clothing was students' favorite part about getting ready for the first day of school. Topping the list of supplies are backpacks with 92 percent of parents reporting it as the number one item to have for the first day of school.

Whatever excites students about going to school this fall, the real challenge will be to keep them enthused and engaged with their learning.  September may mark the end of summer, but in a very real sense it marks the beginning of another year of looking into education matters.