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Preparing For A New School Year

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

Strange as it seems, summer is waning. The countdown to the new school year is upon us and it’s actually a good time to beat the August back-to-school shopping and routine changing madness.

For some children this year will be the first steps into the educational world of mass socialization, rules and regulations. That can be a little scary, even for parents. Other children will have already made that major transition and will be returning to old friends, new schedules, new teachers, new studies, and maybe even new friends. Putting off all the pre-work involved in starting a new school year will only make for a stressful beginning. So get started now!

Immunizations

One of the most important steps you can take right now, is to make sure your child is current on all his or her immunizations. Ask your pediatrician what immunizations are required for the 2011-2012 school year, and make sure you have a copy to present to the school at registration. If you begin early, You may be able to spread out some of the immunizations.  A pre-school health check-up is also a good idea. If you need to make special arrangements with your school concerning your child’s medical needs – doing it ahead of time may save last minute confusion and panic.

Bedtime

If you’ve let your child stay up later during the summer, now is a good time to start easing back to an earlier bedtime. Experts say school-age children roughly need about ten hours of sleep, which means they need to get to bed around 8 or 9 o’clock. Studies have shown that sleep can impact growth and development, and a lack of sleep can affect a child’s temperament, behavior, alertness, and ability to learn. Children who do not get enough sleep have been shown to perform more poorly on memory and attention tests. Sleep problems in the grade-school years were linked to poor scores on mental tests when the children reached adolescence. Sleep is important.

Active minds

Some children may have slipped into watching more TV, or playing computer games, to while away the summer hours.  School is going to require more critical and analytical brain activity. If summer has sort of dulled your child’s learning curve, start revving it back up.  Learning about all kinds of topics can be fun too. Visit a museum – there are science, art, history and a slew of unique and smaller museums that can generate curiosity about the unknown. Plus, you can polish up on a lot of topics you thought you knew.

Read and discuss new books. It’s not only important for children to be able to read, but they need to comprehend what they read. Read together with your younger child and then ask questions. Share books with your older child and create a family “book review” time. You might be surprised at the insight a tween or teen has on a favorite book.

Include Math

Either you love it or hate it – but math is part of life. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius, but you do have to have a good basic understanding of, and the ability to apply, math to related situations. Start your child early with making math a daily part of your activities. Math equations can be incorporated at the grocery store, dining table, on road trips and of course there are fun math games online.

Homework space

Even the youngest students get homework these days. Creating a space dedicated to homework and study can provide a comfortable and positive environment for learning. If there is a space that is quiet – all the better. If your child is required to use a computer, make sure that the computer is located in an area where a parent or guardian can see what websites your child is on.

Let your child have a say in the design or arrangement of their homework space. Ask them what they need and how they would like to organize it. Younger children may need a space closer to where a parent is- such as a dining room table or desk in the living room.

Letting your child have some input as to where they do their homework may help them feel more motivated to complete their assignments. A small child can contribute by choosing the color and pattern for a cushion, or a step stool to rest their feet. Have all the supplies your child will need nearby. Turn off the TV, and make sure there is good lighting.

Sometimes your child may prefer to be in a different area- Be Flexible. Some kids just prefer to flop down on the floor and spread out their homework. The point is to find the best place for them to learn and finish their assignments.

School supplies

You can save money and avoid the last minute school-supply buying crush if you start early. Look for bargains and sales. If you need to stretch your dollars, buy a little at a time.

Some teachers post the school supply list on the school website. Even if the entire list isn’t on early, buy what you know they will need and pick up what’s left when the list pops up.

Buy quality when you can. Well made backpacks, lunchboxes, pens, and clothing will save you money in the long run if you don’t have to replace them as often.

When possible, let your child help in the selections of the products. Offer a couple of choices, then ask which one they prefer. Again, the more they can feel a part of the process, the more they are likely to appreciate it.

There’s still about a month of summer vacation left before the school year begins, but as often happens- it’ll be here before you know it. Right now is a good time to get things in order. Plus, once you’ve taken care of what you can, you and your child can spend the rest of the lazy-hazy days of summer doing something fun.

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