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Is it really time to prep for school? Yes.

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Where did the time go? In our school district, there’s only a scant three weeks of summer break remaining. How in the world do we break all the non-school compatible habits that have taken hold…late bedtimes, daily ice cream and frozen yogurt rations, long hours of mindless fun.

A couple weeks into the summer, I picked up one of those transition books for kids moving from third to fourth grade.  My 8-year-old daughter seemed vaguely interested in it – for a day.

I’m trying to be sly now, leaving it in a very prominent place ON THE KITCHEN TABLE.  My strategy hasn’t worked.

While I’d like to just hang at the pool and lay on the couch with a book, I know it’s probably time to at least start thinking about whether my kiddo is ready for the intensity of a long, learning packed (hopefully) school day.

So, I enlisted my trusty EdNews Parent experts for advice. And they had plenty of it. Here are some tips to get you in that wake-up-early-pack-a-lunch- wake-a-sleepy-child-feed-her-breakfast-beg-her-to-brush-her-teeth-tell-her-to-find-her shoes-locate-missing-homework kind of way:

Tips to prepare your child for a new school year

– If your child is going into fourth grade, review the third grade concepts for math. What a nice feeling for any kiddo to go in remembering math vocabulary and math concepts. You might do this by playing math games in the car, or having your child be the shopper with a bit of money incentive.

– Ask about your child’s major fears or concerns regarding school and talk them through, e.g. What if I can’t figure out my locker? Where is the bathroom? What is going to be the best part of the year? Will I walk or ride the bus?

– Fun is important, too. Consider planning an “end of summer” celebration.

– Reconnect with school friends.

– Correct any ‘drift’ that may have occurred in schedule (i.e., staying up later, sleeping in, watching more TV or playing more computer games) to avoid drastic changes when school starts.

– Communicate with the school as far ahead of time as possible regarding any necessary academic support your child may need.

– If the child is younger, check to see if the school has an orientation or tour they can take with the child. That way, your son or daughter can meet the child’s teacher, principaL and other staff as soon as possible.

–  Consider offering rewards for good academic performance, such as increases in allowance or family time.

– Take you child school supply shopping. Write out a list, give them a basket at the store and begin sending the message that they have ownership over the process. Buy some extra supplies for them to have at home.

– Create a work/art space in your home where your child can access learning tools like pencils, crayons, colored pencils, paper, envelopes, etc.  (We use tool boxes from the hardware store so they’re mobile).

– Buy an alarm clock and teach your child how to set it and wake herself.

– For young children with separation issues, talk to them about how the transition will go : “When we go to school I am going to give you a hug and a kiss and then I will say, ‘Goodbye.’”  Keep it simple and let your child know that you believe in her or his ability to make the separation.

Here’s to an awesome school year!

-Julie Poppen 

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