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Summer vacation will soon come to an end. Before we know it, the school year will be well underway. Students will be hitting the books, preparing for exams, and grinding through the school year. However, prior to classes starting, it is essential for parents/guardians and students to prepare for the year ahead.

Local area teachers have weighed in to provide families with tips, advice, and tricks to help ease the transition to starting school. Educators suggest implementing the following information now so that by the time school starts, children are tackling all aspects of the school day, with flying colors.

1. Practice

Practice makes perfect! Before the school year starts, it is important that parents/guardians practice skills with their children that they will need for the upcoming school year. What should you practice? Former educators from Racine Unified School District and Kenosha Unified School District suggest:

Eating habits

Focus on food this summer before school starts. It is important to discuss and prepare your child to eat breakfast and lunch in a school setting. The following tips can be utilized to streamline your child’s experience in the cafeteria. Focus on:

  • how to open lunch containers
  • eating in a shorter time
  • how to refill their water bottles
  • managing food and water intake to sustain themselves throughout the day
  • eating breakfast in the morning
  • throwing away garbage
  • developing manners
    • not eating off lunch room table
    • asking if anyone has allergies to what your child is eating

Bedtime habits

Good sleep hygiene can ensure having a productive day at school. The week before school starts, or even earlier, implement healthy habits at night and during nap time to help your child stay alert throughout the school day.

Depending on the child’s age, focus on these areas of sleep hygiene:

  • go to sleep and wake up at the times you will need to do so during the school year
  • picking out outfits the night before
  • packing a lunch the night before
  • eliminating electronic use during naps and at night

Educator Victoria Carrado says, “Getting a good night’s sleep! This seriously makes the biggest difference. I would rather have a kiddo come to school well rested than staying up all night doing homework.”

Not only does it matter what goes on at night, but from the moment the child wakes up.

“However their morning starts at home sets the track for the rest of their day,” says Rian Rodriguez, elementary educator at RUSD. With these implementations, you’ll likely start the school year on a good path.

2. Stick to a routine

Humans are creatures of habit. When parents and children establish positive routines in their lives, they’re likely to be successful. While each day may look different during the summer months, it is important that there is cohesiveness during the school year.

Expected the unexpected. It is important that parents try to make each day as predictable as possible for their young children; it is also valuable to teach your child how to cope when things go off kilter.

Wendy Saber, a high school counselor from RUSD, states, “be organized and have a routine starting day one. If struggling in any way, ask for help/assistance right away.”

Tips to follow:

  • use a picture schedule to help school children visualize
  • make use of planners
  • written instructions, notes, and messages about changes in routine or schedule can help to remind students and staff

3. Focus on communication

Between children being at school and living at home, information can easily get lost or misunderstood. It is important that parents establish a strong connection with their child’s teacher. It is also important to not overwhelm them. While someone may be a parent to one or two children, educators are looking over a large number of students. Being patient with staff can ensure relationships are well maintained too.

Case High School administrator Tom Tuttle suggests that everyone “slow down and communicate.”

When the school year is just starting, chances are there will be confusion, heavy emotions, anxiety and chaos. Establishing good communication can help you understand your child’s – and their school’s – desires.

Mary Braun Modder, a former educator at KUSD and board member of KUSD points out that communication between the school and parents can happen in a variety of ways. It’s not just an email or phone call. Communication can be done through the child.

“Check (their) backpack when they get home from school,” she advises.

When doing this she says you should remove flyers and messages. When taking things out of the backpack like homework and books, it is important it goes right back into the backpack.

Create and sustain good communication before the school year and as it continues.

4. Create independence

Let’s face it, mom and dad won’t be there every time their child needs help during the school year. They won’t be around to always help them go to the bathroom, wash their hands, fasten a button, or sharpen a pencil.

Before the school year starts, parents should focus on instilling confidence in their children to help them be independent. Local educators suggest the following areas be focused on:

  • Make sure children can use the restroom on their own
  • Understand how automatic flush toilets work to ensure the child doesn’t develop a fear
  • Prepare your child to know how to use belts, buttons and other clothing accessories
  • Learn important medical information and/or accommodations
    • Do they have allergies or dietary restrictions?
    • Do they have a diagnosis others should be aware of?
  • Washing hands
  • Fixing/doing hair
  • Make your child aware of their IEP or 504 plan
    • Have them carry a copy

5. Transportation

Not only does it matter how the child is doing at school and at home, but it is important to make sure that all the “i”s are dotted and the “t”s are crossed when it comes to transportation. How the child is getting to and from school can be a big deal. It is essential that students are safe when departing their homes, arriving at their designated schools, and then going back to their homes.

Whether your student rides the bus, walks to school, or relies on a family or friend to transport them, it is important that when around vehicles, safety is a priority.

Tips to keep in mind before and during the school year:

  • Make educators aware of changes to transportation
  • Practice school bus safety
  • Attach in case of emergency information on their backpack or belongings

For more information about school bus safety:

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