Back to School
Introduction: The beginning of a new school year can be very exciting, but it can also be a little scary. A positive experience on the first day of school can make the rest of the year run smoothly. Some ways to make the first day of school an easy transition include:
- Reminding your child that she is not the only student who is a bit uneasy about the first day of school. Everyone is really in the same position.
- Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun. She'll see old friends and meet new friends.
- Refresh her memory about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.
- Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk to school or ride with on the bus.
- If your child is older, have him offer to walk with or wait at the bus stop with a new or younger child. If your child is a bit more introverted, there is nothing wrong with driving her (or walking with her) to school and picking her up on the first day.
Taking a developmental approach to a new school year
- 1-5 year olds: For children at this age, learning occurs with talking, singing, and interactive reading. Games incorporating physical activity are new and exciting. New skills include playing alone and with others, being assertive without being aggressive, and being able to express feelings and emotions.
- 5-11 year olds: For school age children, there is a real need to prepare for classroom activities. At this age, lots of praise will go a long way. Encourage talking, interactive reading, and individual attention, epically if there are siblings. It is important to teach respect for authority and leaning right from wrong, Skills include learning how to resolving conflicts and handling anger. As a parent, you need to set reasonable but challenging expectations for home and school responsibilities. Encourage your child to become active in the community, in sporting events, and in after school activities.
- 11-23 year olds: For adolescents and young adults, making the transitions to middle school, high school, or beyond are about learning personal accountability and responsibility. It is important to identify and assist with school frustrations and prevent school dropout or academic decline. Encourage participation in school activities and discuss talents, and future interests and goals. Also, talk frankly about drinking alcohol. Don't lose sight of the fact that alcohol's negative effects can be devastating and that adolescent can develop drinking problems that might require professional help.
Coping with bullies: Give your child some strategies for coping with bullies. She should not give in to a bully's demands, but should simply walk away or tell the bully to stop. Most so called bullying behavior is really just teasing by a socially awkward child. For true bullies, empower your child to understand that the bully is the one who needs help. 50% of bullies have a parent who is the same and since they have not had any role modeling at home, they need modeling from another adult who in this case is the teacher. Teach your child to assertively ask the teacher for help with the offending child. If you have to, talk with the teacher about a persistent bully. Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk to school or ride with on the bus. If your child is older, have her offer to walk with or wait at the bus stop with a new or younger child. See the link to bullies on this website.
Homework: Starting school means starting homework. Children learn better when they are not distracted by hunger. Encourage your child to eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch. Once at home, try to provide a positive homework atmosphere for your child that is free of clutter and distractions, including television. Show your child you are interested in her work. Re- explain assignments if necessary, and check to see that homework is completed. If you are having trouble fitting homework into your child's schedule you may need to cut back on her activities, or see that after-school care includes supervised time. If your child is struggling with a particular subject, and you aren't able to help her yourself, a tutor can be a good solution.
Backpacks: Remind children to carry the minimum load, and pack heavier items first, so they are closest to the back. When picking up a pack, bend with both knees and lift with the legs. Select smaller packs for smaller children. Look for packs with wide, heavily padded shoulder straps. The shoulder straps should be fastened so the pack hugs the center of the back. Waist and side straps may help keep the pack close up against the back. Always wear both straps so the weight is evenly divided. Use a wheeled backpack when possible.
- School bus safety: For some 23 million students nationwide, the school day begins and ends with a trip on a school bus. Unfortunately, each year many youngsters are injured in school bus incidents. Review the basic bus safety rules with your child such as waiting for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb, not moving around on the bus, and looking for traffic before crossing the street to the bus.
- Walking or bike riding to school: If your child bikes to school, make sure he or she wears a helmet. Bikers should also wear bright, light colored clothing, and, when it is getting dark, they should wear markers that reflect light. If your child fears other people he or she may meet on the way to school, help plan other routes for your child to take to school or talk with the school principal about this.
- Playground safety: Every 2.5 minutes a child is injured on a playground in the United States. You can help prevent injuries by following a few simple rules:
- Allow play only on age appropriate playground equipment. For example, don't let young children play on high climbing equipment such as monkey bars.
- Keep all children off equipment from which they might fall six or more feet.
- Check the surface under playground equipment, hardwood fiber, mulch chips, pea gravel, fine sand, or shredded rubber are best due to their increased ability to cushion a fall.
- Remove or cut the hood and neck drawstrings from coats and sweaters can prevent entanglement and strangulation while playing on slides and other playground equipment.
- Make sure spaces that could trap children's heads, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, measure less than 3.5 inches (so children can't get their heads in) or more than 9 inches (so they can get out).
- Check playground equipment to make sure it is in good repair, without jagged edges or sharp points.
Teach your child about strangers: Regardless of how they travel to school, teach your children not to talk to strangers. Although it may be hard for you, talk frankly with your children and teach them some common tricks of child molesters. You might want to play out these situations with your child. Ask, “What would you do if…” Someone asks for directions and wants you to get into a car? Someone asks for help in looking for a lost pet and leads you into an isolated area? Someone asks to take your picture for a TV ad and invites you into their house or apartment? If they walk a long distance in a tough neighborhood, it may be helpful to give your child a whistle to blow if they are in danger or provide them with a cell phone. Teach them how to call 911. Communicate with the school, always call the school if your child will be absent and make sure the school knows how to contact you if your child does not show up. Tell your child how to contact you at home or work and explain that she should leave detailed messages if there is an emergency. Arrange for other parents to take your children in an emergency or if you are going to be late.
School Sports: Each year, more than 775,000 children under age 15 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports injuries. In fact, sports injuries are the number one reason for emergency department visits among children.
- Preventing injuries: Many of these injuries can be prevented if parents get involved and make sure their children wear protective gear, follow the rules of play, and are physically and emotionally prepared to play the sport.
- To help your child avoid sports injuries make sure your child wears all the required safety gear every time he or she plays and practices.
- Know how the sports equipment should fit your child and how to use it. If you're not sure, ask the coach or a sporting goods expert for help.
- Set a good example–if you play a sport, wear your safety gear, too.
- Insist that your child warm up and stretch before playing, paying special attention to the muscles that will get the most use during play (for example, a pitcher should focus on warming up the shoulder and arm).
- Teach your child not to play through pain.
- What if my child gets an injury?
- Follow the RICE rule – Rest, Ice, Compression (wrapping with an ace bandage), and Elevation. Give Motrin to decrease the pain and swelling every 6 hours.
- If your child “jams” his finger, taping it to the adjacent finger, also called “buddy taping” can help prevent further injury and relive some discomfort. It is important to give the injury enough rest to prevent a re-injury that may be more severe.
- If you're not sure if it's safe for your child to perform a certain technique or move (such as heading a soccer ball or diving off the highest platform), ask us or your child’s coach.
- Above all, keep sports fun. Putting too much focus on winning can make your child push too hard and risk injury.
- How do I know if my child is ready to play a sport? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you wait until your child is six years old to play team sports. Most children younger than that don't understand the concept of team play. With older children, you should decide if it's okay for them to play based on their physical and emotional development and their eagerness to play. Remember, pushing children to play a sport before they're ready, or when they don't want to, can increase their risk of getting hurt.
- What immunizations will my child need for school? Prior to staring kindergarten, most schools require that your child have completed their series of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP), haemophilis influenza type B (HiB), polio (IPV), hepatitis B (Hep B), measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and chicken pox. At 11-14 years, they will also need a tetanus/whooping cough booster, a meningitis vaccine and girls will need a HPV or Human Papilloma Virus vaccine which protects against most types of cervical cancer. Recently, it has been recommended that children over age 1 receive two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine that protects against the most common form of food borne disease. Many children will need to catch up on this vaccine prior to entering school.