We’re officially at that place; in the last days of summer before school, whatever version of school is working for your family begins. For most moms, that realization brings excitement, relief, and fear.

Be honest; cause we all do it, this is the time of year when we secretly begin doing the happy dance because we know silence, calm, and moments of peace are about to return. And then, without thinking, we shift from the happy dance to overwhelm as we realize all that has to get done before we hand sweet Linus and Lucy off to their teacher and bolt to the coffee shop to celebrate.

As you begin shifting toward the school year, you have an opportunity that few parents remember until it’s too late.

Ask yourself, was there anything you didn’t get done or get finished that you want to make sure you get done before summer is over?

Have you prepared your child for the coming year? I don’t mean getting school supplies or brushing up on letters, math, or reading. And I’m referring to the “big talk” that all parents have about what’s about to happen. I’m talking about prepping them with the experience of school from the safest place they know—home.

Here’s a list of 8 things you can do to help prep your child for kindergarten, followed by a few tips for older kids.

#1:  Kids are literal! One big talk about how things will go will not create a routine they can learn from. Instead, think about how your child’s school day is divided. Each portion of the day requires a new set of skills that need to be learned. Break down the skills that need to be understood and teach them.

#2: All kids, especially little ones, respond very well to routine. So, begin the school routine now. Know that there will be resistance, but that’s a good thing. Your child’s resistance shows you how bonded the two of you have become. That bond will sustain and bolster her for the few hours she’s there without you. Her resistance also allows you to find ways to combat that hesitancy long before the pressure to arrive at school on time enters the picture.

#3: Ask your child’s teacher what the rules for Circle Time are and how she manages to get the kid’s attention in class. Then recreate that experience at home. Use painter’s tape and make a small circle somewhere in your home. Use the same word or sound the teacher will use to call your child to Circle Time. Break down the different skills needed for Circle Time; things like how to stop your activity, how to sit cross-legged, what being quiet really means, and how to keep your hands to yourself. You can see how literal and fundamental the required skills are.

#4: Parents do not attend lunch with their kids. So, ensure your child can use his fine motor skills to open things. If he can’t, teach him how now before school begins. He needs to be able to open things like yogurt tubes, applesauce lids, and containers from home. And he will need to know how to unwrap and stick a straw into apple juice or milk or pour from a thermos.

#5: Ask the school how long the kids have for lunch. Set a timer for that length of time, so your child learns what it feels like to eat with a time limit and not dawdle.

#6: Practice packing up the lunch box. Let him take it out of the refrigerator, unpack it, eat it, and then throw everything away and repack the lunch bag. And, if they’ll receive hot lunch, teach him how to walk with a tray.

#7: We know older kids love to sleep. So they need to begin waking up earlier, slowly. Begin setting the alarm about ½ hour earlier each day, one week before school starts, so it is not a shock to wake up for school.

#8: Get the learning muscles going again. Take kids somewhere like an art museum or a science museum, or have them read a chapter book, graphic novel, or watch a documentary and then write/draw a summary of what they learned. This assignment gets their hands writing or typing and their brain working on assignments again. You’ll be happy that you did.
Warning: Do not correct or be critical of what they’ve drawn or written. Completing the assignment is the goal, not perfection.

That’s it for me today. And as always, there will be more.
Thank you to Stasia Jade for the original post about back to school.
Go hug your kids,
Sharon

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