This is the time of year when we make the transition from summer into fall. My favourite time, I’ve said before, as I’ve always looked forward to the first day of school. Now, having an anxiety-ridden 7 year old, I realize that this is not the case for everybody. Luckily, there are a few things that we can do to help prepare our children for the transition…note the keyword being “few”. Here are the things I’ve been able to do for my two.
The Easy One – Get Them Physically Ready
We start going to bed earlier and getting up earlier, preparing our routine for when we are in school. We’ve also been using our “practical skills” – going to the washroom independently, getting dressed, zipping their zippers, and putting on their shoes.
The funnest part about getting physically ready for school – is the shopping.
*this is where I have to mention – the Gap has a deal going on until the 24th of August. For every $50 you spend, the Gap will give you a $25 coupon to spend sometime in September. (For a lady who’s wardrobe is 75% Gap Factory, I’ll take it!)
Here are Hailey and Zach’s fabulous finds for back to school:
Hailey’s Back to School Finds
Zach’s Back to School Finds
The Fun One – Get Them Mentally Ready
This is my favourite – simply because this is what I’m so passionate about. These are all easy things that have been casually explored throughout the summer in our house.
Asking open-ended questions is one of the easiest things we can do to mentally prepare our children for school. While they are playing, take a minute to sit down with them and talk about what they are doing – open-ended questions promote imagination, creativity, problem-solving and boost their self-esteem, showing them that their opinion matters, that we want to hear what they have to say.
Some examples of Open-Ended Questions:
Tell me about what you’re doing.
What else can you do with that?
What do you think would happen if…?
When you say… what do you mean?
Where did you learn about that?
Can you tell me more about that?
Keep in mind –
if you can answer the question with a yes or no, it’s not open-ended.
Bedtime stories are routine in our house. We read stories with our children every night – pointing to the words and pictures, talking about what we’re reading, predicting what will come next… it’s endless!
Now that Hailey is reading on her own – we’ve invested in all kinds of fabulous begin-to-read type stories. Our favourites include Usborne’s Learn to Read Program – see my review here.
Last year, Hailey brought home a journal that was sent back and forth between home and school. It was a fabulous way to see how she writes and encourage her to do so.
I came across this gem of a journal (above) when I was doing my Christmas shopping last year. I stuck it in her stocking and it’s become invaluable. It’s organized by date and under each date there is room for one sentence – enough to encourage her to write about her day, everyday.
When Zach sees Hailey writing, it encourages him to write as well. Bonus to having multiple children. I’ve recreated these mini-journals specifically with him in mind – big writing lines and just enough room for him to practice individual letters and writing his name. See my tutorial here.
This is included simply because Hailey’s amazing teacher from last year recommended a little extra practice for her. Hailey’s school uses Ten-Frames as a teaching tool – for children to “see” what numbers look like. I decided to create my own Ten-Frames for us to use to play all kinds of different games and activities with.
You can see my explanation and even download your own copy of my Ten-Frames here.
The Hard One – Get Them Emotionally Ready
There is only so much we can do to prepare our kids emotionally. I know with our Hailey, there will be tears. School hasn’t even started yet, and there have been tears. So I’ve been doing what I can.
She has a calendar posted in her room where she crosses off each day as it passes. You can download a copy of her calendar below – I just printed the portrait version and stuck it on a clipboard from the dollar store, pinning it to her wall.
More than that, I created a countdown to the first day of school on Post-It notes. You can read my tutorial on How to print on Post-It notes and download a copy of my countdown here.
Finally, we’ll be having an end of the summer celebration – who doesn’t love a good party? – to mark a clear and distinct end to the summer and the start of school.
Other than that, all I can do is be here to support her. I am here to listen and validate her feelings. We’ll sit together and role play it out. We talk about the possible scenarios that may come – who her teacher may be, what could happen if one of her friends isn’t in her class, what the first day of school will look like – basically anything and everything I can think of… while praying it will all go her way.