The summer is coming to an end and children are getting ready to go back to school. For some little ones this will be their first time starting in a new school or preschool setting. This can be an exciting and sometimes fearful time for both children and parents alike. We asked Michael Thompson, Ph.D. and his wife Debbie, co-owners of Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy Henderson / Silverado Ranch, their advice on dealing with this exciting, yet potentially stressful time.
Q. Going to school, especially for the first time student, can be a huge adjustment for kids. What types of things can parents do to assist their child in getting ready for a new year of schooling?
A. Let us begin by talking a little about creating emotional security and the importance of structure. Children really appreciate and need structure in their lives to feel comfortable and safe. Often when we give tours of our school to new families one of the first things parents notice and comment on is how well behaved and involved the children are in their classrooms or during meal times. We point out that this is really about how structure and daily routine helps to encourage a student’s feeling of comfort.
Q. As parents, when we began to think about our children going off to school for the first time, it caused some anxiety. Is this a common experience for parents?
A. Sending your child out into a brave new world outside of your home can come with its fair share of feelings and anxieties for parents. It is an emotion filled time of letting go, and at the same time a great celebration of your child growing up. The more comfortable you are about your decision to send your child to a particular school, and the excitement your child feels about his/her new school will lead to fewer anxieties for each of you as you begin the next journey of your child’s life.
Q. What can parents do to feel more comfortable about their decision?
A. It really starts with taking the time to do a complete evaluation and visit the school that you are thinking about sending your little one to. This is one of the most important decisions you will make in your child’s early years, and all schools are not created equal. We encourage parents to make as list of what is important to them in a high quality school setting, then carefully review each school’s website for information about their programs. Next, set up a complete tour, making sure to bring your child with you.
Along with learning about the school’s educational philosophy, curriculum and programs, you will want to explore how they create an environment that will welcome and encourage involvement. This visit will also give you and your child an opportunity to meet the teachers and spend time in his/her classroom.
Some schools also offer video technology that allow parents the ability to log in to a secured video streaming system to watch their child as they learn and play in their classroom. This can be a great tool to provide peace of mind, especially when your child is first starting out.
Q. It seems that Preschool and Kindergarten have changed dramatically since we went to school. What should we look for to keep our kids up to speed?
A. We’d like to think that in some ways the important foundational things have changed very little. When you boil it all down, what children really need to bloom is to feel loved, accepted and given focused time and attention. On the other hand, we live in a society and era that are moving very rapidly, and quality early childhood education programs are changing to meet the demands for future academic success. Currently, high quality early childhood educational programs include infant/toddler sign language and yoga, brain development curriculum, computer iPad and online learning programs, interactive program curriculum in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math, accredited learning curriculums and academic skills testing, in addition to good old favorites like mud finger painting.
Starting school for the first time doesn’t have to be a scary experience. A few simple changes in your routine and choosing a school that both you and your child are comfortable with will make this exciting transition a happy one.
Debbie & Michael Thompson, Ph.D. are the owners/operators of Kids R Kids Learning Academy in the Henderson/Silverado Ranch area. For the past 15 years, they’ve educated thousands of children while serving the needs of their families. If you have questions about parenting or early childhood education, please contact Michael at KidsRKidsSerene@gmail.com.