We're in the middle of summer and it has been hot, full of swimming lessons, outdoor play, baseball games, and family fun. My daughter will be attending a new preschool in September and I asked my sister, 20 year experienced preschool teacher, Dasy Perez how I could help my daughter get ready for school after a fun filled summer? Here are her suggestions:
Mi Legasi: Hi Dasy, it's so nice having you visit us for a few days since you're on break.
Dasy: I'm happy to have a little break from work so I can spend time with my family.
Mi Legasi: I wanted to get some suggestions on how I can help Victoria (my daughter) transition from summer to school, especially since she's starting a new school. What are some suggestions?
Dasy: Make them familiar with the school setting by visiting the school, meeting the teachers, seeing the classrooms if possible.
Mi Legasi: Ok, we attended an open house for the new school where we met other parents, other students, met the teachers, and she was able to see her classroom. So that's good, what else?
Dasy: Make sure you talk about it often. For example, if they are already in school her current teacher or caregiver should be talking about the upcoming transition. For parents, you should have conversations with your child addressing things things like having new friends, having new teachers, exploring new toys, and learning about new things.
Mi Legasi: Ok, so I've talked about the new school, how she's not going to have the same teacher, how she will have new friends and not see her old friends as often as possible, because I will be staying in touch with a couple of the moms in her current school. I haven't really talked about new exploring new toys, why is that important?
Dasy: Each classroom environment is different and they need a little awareness and it also builds excitement towards going to school and learning new things.
Mi Legasi: I see, that makes sense. How else can I get her excited and looking forward to going to school when all we've done during the summer has been going out and having fun?
Dasy: Parents can take their kids school shopping and letting them choose their lunchbox, their backpack, their clothes, shoes, and getting them involved in the process. Make it a big deal.
Mi Legasi: I still haven't gone shopping and to be honest I was just going to order everything online, but now I will take her shopping instead so that she can get excited about her school. Great suggestion, what else you got?
Dasy: Read to them. Read them books about going to preschool, Kindergarden, 1st grade, etc.
Mi Legasi: I recently went to Target and they had a whole section on Back to School books. In our Mi Legasi August box we have La Escuela book. I also love these books:
Mi Legasi: I already do this, but should parents take a few hours a week to practice writing, reading, things related to what they'll be doing in school?
Dasy: Actually, more important than that is that 1-2 weeks before the school year begins is to get them into their new routine. For example, if they've been going to sleep late start putting them to bed earlier in increments of 10-15 minutes until they reach their new bedtime. If they have been waking up later, start waking them up earlier also in increments of 10-15 minutes. Try to get close to the new schedule so that when they do start school it's a smooth process for both the child and the parents.
Mi Legasi: Oh wow, so I guess we'll be hurting then because I scheduled our Disney vacation the week right before she starts school?!
Dasy: You can still wake her up early and put her to bed as close to her school year bedtime during vacation, but your transition may be a little slower.
Mi Legasi: Ok, we can do that. Anything that we can do or that you can suggest for parents?
Dasy: To make it easier for you and the child, try to prepare the night before lunches and snacks, getting clothes ready by asking your child what they would like to wear, your clothes too, packing any homework, projects, or paperwork needed for school, etc. Every day is different and you have your ups and downs, make sure to be calm, focused, and having things prepared before hand will limit your anxieties and frustrations.
Mi Legasi: I'm guilty of doing some things in the morning because in her current daycare they are very flexible for drop off. However, in her new school they have a very structured program and drop off is at the same time so I see that I will have to make changes on my part so that our mornings can be successful and smoother.
Dasy: For me the biggest thing is for parents to understand that every child and family are different. What may work for you may not work for another family. Some kids need more time in the morning, some children may need more time to adjust to the routine and their school environment, as teachers we can only provide suggestions and guidelines but as a parent you're the one who knows the child the best and knows what works for you.
Mi Legasi: That is very true. Like Victoria and I are morning people but my husband is not. So if he's dropping her off, I know we have to be well prepared. She's also very shy in new situations and it takes her a bit to get comfortable with new people and children, so I'm already mentally prepared to deal with a slower transition because of her nature. One day at a time, one cafecito at a time!
Dasy: Just do the best that you can and take it one step at a time.
Mi Legasi: Thank you so much, this was such a big help for me and I know it will help other parents as well.
What about you? Do you have any tips for getting your child ready for school? Let us know, we'll be happy to share them with other familias.
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