06
September

Published: Monday, 06.09.2010

Hooray, it’s the new school year!

Getting ready for school can be quite demanding, but much of the stress and tension (both in parents and children) could be avoided or reduced if parents prepared themselves and their children for the forthcoming school year as if they were preparing for an important game.

 

Some advice from Ivana, the SOS Children's Village Lekenik psychologist...


Preparation shouldn’t be limited to going shopping for textbooks, school supplies and other things. What really counts is mental preparation, regardless of your child’s age. Think about it for a while and talk to your child about expectations regarding his or her abilities, accomplishments and school results. Find out what challenges her or she will have to face this year, reflect on the last year and make plans/set goals for the new school year: extra study time for math, top marks at the end of the year, better behavior in class, preparing for enrollment in high school, graduating from high school…


Prepare yourself for school


No, this doesn’t mean you have to go back to the classroom with your child! However, your attitude and approach to school will certainly influence your child’s attitude. Timely planning for the beginning of the school year will reduce stress, insecurity and fears. There’s no doubt that maintaining a positive outlook on studying and school is important. Keep reminding your child of the importance of education for the process of growing up and point out that returning to school also means that he or she will soon be seeing his or her classmates again, sharing exciting stories about summer holidays and participating in many new games and activities with them.
If your child suffers from learning or behavioral disability, it is paramount to discuss the nature of the disability with the teacher or the school expert (e.g. pedagogue or psychologist) beforehand, in order to develop coping strategies, define the role of the school, specify your obligations as a parent and determine how often you have to be in contact with the school for optimal monitoring of your child’s progress.


First time in school


First graders and their parents have to go through special preparations for school. No, the children don’t have to be well versed in reading, writing and arithmetic before starting school, but they do have to master many other skills in order to adjust to their new life as students: sitting still for a prolonged period of time, following teacher’s instructions, differentiating between sounds, colors and shapes, making new friends, behaving in the classroom…
Although most students-to-be and their parents only start focusing on school preparations in August, in reality the children begin preparing for school from the moment of birth, even if it is not always apparent. It is through play that child develops his or her abilities, acquires knowledge, establishes relations with his or her peers and prepares for his or her first day in the classroom. A parent who consistently sets clear rules and boundaries, ensures that child will be diligent about performing his or her tasks (such as putting away toys…), encourages independence and praises the child, talks to the child and listens to him or her with understanding, shows love and respect for the child and lets the child have many different experiences – going to museums, theatre and ZOO, taking day trips… - will help the child reach the level of maturity required for school readiness.

Activities to encourage school readiness


At the end of the summer, children need to be prepared and motivated for the return to the school routine. This is why children should participate in the purchase of school supplies and clothes, make protective sleeves for new textbooks etc. Older children and more seasoned students can do all of these things on their own.
First graders still don’t know what they will encounter in school so their parents should take special effort to prepare them. To that end, you could do the following exercises with your preschoolers during the summer:

 

  • Exercises designed to sharpen attention, focus, perception and observation – observe things and events in your surroundings with your child, direct your child’s attention to them, ask questions and discuss everything he or she notices (e.g. “What do you think about…?”). All of these abilities are normally developed in everyday play and through everyday tasks (dressing, eating, putting away clothes and toys etc.)
  • Temporal and spatial orientation exercises (learning the meaning of concepts such as yesterday-today-tomorrow; above-below-left-right…
  • Learning sounds (listing words beginning with the same letter, rhyming, completing words…)
  •  Learning about the concept of numbers (counting things, board games)
     

The easiest way to learn all of the above is through play. You can play all kinds of games with your child, e.g. dominoes, Don’t Get Angry or Memory, you can read stories and watch movies together, retell stories and events, describe pictures, draw, color, shape, make paper cutouts, play with building blocks, play guess-that-sound or encourage your child to act as if he or she already knows how to read and write.
Your child should know the following before starting school: how to look after his or her things, maintain personal hygiene, use the toilet and dress without assistance. He or she should also memorize personal information (first and last name, name of parents, address) and a safe route from home to school. It’s important to keep in mind that a preschooler can only maintain focus on activities for a brief period of time, so it is important that everything you do with the child, except, of course, playing, never lasts longer than 15 to 30 minutes.
First impressions, days and activities in school will have a huge influence on your child’s attitude towards school, and on his or her success in school. For that reason, consider celebrating the first day of school as a special occasion that should be a cherished memory for your child. Most importantly, let your child know that your love for him or her does not depend on his or her success in school.


Preparations for school in SOS Children's Village Lekenik


In SOS Children's Village Lekenik, preparations for school go on for the entire month of August. Most first graders prepare for school at home with their SOS mothers and aunts, through play and various activities, or in their preschool playgroup in the kindergarten. At home they alternate between light reading and writing and learning to perform household tasks. They also prepare their textbooks and other school supplies themselves.
We provide tuition for all of our students who need additional help with their studies, regardless of age. Each student gets a program tailored to fit his or her needs and consults with the tutor on areas that need to be mastered before the start of school. After that, children spend up to an hour a day with their tutor, learning through a combination of study and play time. Older students also work without assistance by doing exercises in math, German etc. Sometimes, if it is necessary, their older SOS siblings, Village pedagogue or psychologist will pitch in to help. Everyone makes an effort to study together, and when they are done, they race outside to grab a little more play time and relaxation before it’s time to go back to school.



 

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