Ready for School?

Colette Ernst, Sby6 Coordinator


A couple of days ago my eldest daughter asked me the questions that defines to me the end of summer “Mom when are we going to buy my school supplies?”

The reality sunk in that I was unprepared for the start of another season of school, lunch bags and homework. From my kids perspective, September is a time of excitement as they meet new class mates, get new clothes and supplies, find out who their teachers are and enjoy—yes, enjoy—school days.

It reminds me of when they first trundled off to their first day of Kindergarten dressed in their finest new clothes, a new backpack on their back and all full of hope and expectation.

Kindergarten is a momentous step for children and as parents it’s our responsibility and privilege to do all that we can to help them be prepared for this new adventure. Attending school will develop a child in all capacities from a broader social and cultural understanding, to physical skills and emotional maturity. As parents we can prepare our children as early as two years of age by beginning their learning at home and in the community.

Recently I wrote about the power of play, quoting Jane Hewes as she explained that play is how children develop and learn. The School District 59 website has a wealth of information on how to prepare a child for Kindergarten and the top suggestion is a daily practice of reading to your child—how fun!

My daughter is heading into her first year of high school and she and her father still take the time to read together almost every night. There is something about the connection—imagining the scenes together, the voices, the emotions—that develops not only intellectual acuity but also emotional and social connections.

Preparing your child for school can start early. From the time you begin to play with your child, you are teaching them the first steps of math, science and literature. By engaging with your child in their daily activities, stimulating interest in their surroundings and making learning a part of life, the fundamentals of school begin to form.

As a parent, joining in to activities with your child is such an important step to helping them develop. Working on crafts, colouring and cutting paper together give you as a parent time to help your child follow instructions, builds communication as well as small motor skills. Bring children together in safe family friendly play areas encourages social development and self-regulation. Giving a child some responsibility around the home promotes confidence and independence.

One of the biggest challenges for children when they enter Kindergarten is that they leave the security of their parents and homes. The first day away from those they know can be exciting for some and scary for others. This includes having to listen to rules, sitting still and focusing on a task for a short time, communicate with new adults and children, and take responsibility for some of their own needs like toiling and dressing.

There are many resources in Tumbler Ridge including wonderful programs such as Strong Start, Alpha Bits Crawl and Tumbler Ridge Public Library Children’s Programs that support and help families introduce children to the skills needed in school with the security of a parents presence.

When weather is nice, a walk to the local neighbour hood park to meet another family can gently introduce children to the idea of cooperative play. Taking your child on short trips to the store or post office can build his ability to follow instructions and use his manners, but also show them that they are a valued part of the family.

And then the day comes like mine did, when you have weeks and not months left to prepare yourself and your family for the start of the school year. I begin to initiate conversations and continue to develop an openness in sharing thoughts and expectations about the new adventure they will be starting. Bedtimes and mealtimes become more formalized and set as we re-establish routine in the home. And the purchasing of those school supplies gets underway, bags get labeled and packed for that inevitable first day and the countdown begins.