Going back to school or going for the first time can be an interesting experience for both students and parents alike.
Some children are excited to start school and others are sometimes very hesitant about being away from their parents all day for the first time.
There are things to expect, things to get used to and things that can be done to help through the adjustment period for both children and parents.
Bruce Buruma, director of community relations for Red Deer Public Schools, said taking an active role in your child’s education is what makes the biggest difference.
“Parents are always the most important teachers that children have. As children get older parents seem to remove themselves from the education that their student gets.”
Stu Henry, deputy superintendant for Red Deer Public Schools, said students will be incredibly excited for the new school year.
“Often when a child is showing anxiety it’s because the parent is anxious. Be optimistic and your child will be optimistic.”
Henry said it’s important that families take the time to hear their kids out because the children come home so excited about school.
Ron Eberts, assistant superintendant of learning services, said especially for the Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 2 students that a lot of time be spent on building routines at school.
“A lot of these kids come from unstructured homes. Even meeting new friends can be daunting. Parents can talk to their kids about how to meet friends, using please and thank you.”
Henry said one of the first things teachers will often do is get the students to introduce themselves. They may have to say their name, whether they have any pets or what they did over the summer holidays.
“When a five-year-old is in a classroom with 20 kids that can be a scary experience. Moms and dads need to show their children how to meet new friends,” said Henry.
One thing that Henry said is important through all school years is home reading.
“The more you can make reading a regular part of what your family does for fun the more it builds concentration and literacy skills and prepares kids for school,” said Henry.
And while some parents are anxious about their little ones starting or going back to school, there are the older kids to consider as well.
“Older students transitioning into middle or high school for the first time can show some of the same anxieties. The remedy is the exact same, be excited about all of the possibilities,” said Henry.
As a parent being really encouraging and letting your kids explore their school options can be one of the most important steps toward a students’ successful school career.
“If they think they’re an athlete, let them be an athlete. If they think they’re musical, get them into band and choirs and involved in the school,” said Henry.
Henry also pointed out that for students in Grade 6 and up, online progress reports are available to the parents.
“Instead of waiting for a reporting period they can see how their student is doing every day and whether they are missing assignments or are on track,” said Henry.
Buruma added it’s important for parents to take an active role and be interested in not only what their student is learning but also how their student is learning it.
“There aren’t straight rows of desks in classrooms anymore and that’s why it’s important that parents know what is going on in the classroom,” said Buruma.
There are many opportunities to be involved at all grade levels whether it be by volunteering in the classroom, taking part in field trips or even being a part of school council.
“As a parent just be really encouraging let your kids explore. It’ll be a long time before they know what they’re good at, so let them try everything,” said Henry.