Walking the Route

The following is a message from Summit Education Initiative Early Childhood Strategy Leader Laura DiCola. It appears in the July 2017 “Prepared, Passionate & Persistent Parents” e-newsletter.

August is an exciting time full of new beginnings, new routines, lots of growth and – let’s face it – perhaps maybe even a few tears. (Usually from mom or dad!!). For youngsters just beginning to transition from home to school – or for those who are moving on to kindergarten, new buildings or new classrooms – its normal for this excitement to be mixed with a little anxiety as well. Starting school can bring on a few jitters for even the most independent children and the adults who love them.

two Akron Public Schools students

Photos: Akron Public Schools

There are many simple things that you can do to nurture your child’s growing independence and help smooth the way for a successful start to school. One of the best ways to do this is to visit your child’s school or classroom before school begins. If you can go inside, walk the halls and point out important areas such as classrooms, the principal’s office, restrooms, entrances, etc. If your school offers an open house – go! Take advantage of any chance you may have to introduce your child to his or her teacher. The visit does not need to be a formal “tour.” Playing outdoors on the playground or having a picnic on the grass in front of the school is a great way to help your child begin to feel comfortable. 

When I think back to the things our family did to prepare for a new school year when my four girls were young, I am struck by the fact that I used many of these very same strategies to help them prepare for the bigger transitions they now face as young adults. No college move-in day was complete until we had armed ourselves with her course schedule and found our way together to each building and classroom on her schedule. “Walking the route” was something I did with each of my girls without fail. Akron Public Schools student drawing

No matter what works best for your child, talking to your child about school and what they can expect will help them arrive with confidence. Acknowledge any concerns and fears. Don’t forget how much reassuring words can help. 
I wish the best for all families who are sending children to school for the first time this month and next!