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A little talking, constructive play can ease first-day-of-school jitters

By By Michelle Blaylock, Mom’s Corner
I know it's stating the obvious, but it's time for school to start. Well, OK, maybe not obvious, considering it is only the beginning of August! I went online to check the school calendar.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out one of the reasons we're starting so early is that every month the schools are closed for some vacation day, except for August. I guess we can count the first five days our "August" break. Personally, I'd rather have fewer days off during the school year and a longer summer break, but that's just me. Apparently, since we have this schedule, I'm in the minority.
Getting ready for school to start can be challenging. There are school supplies and clothes, but there's also the getting back in the routine and working out the back-to-school schedule — at least in our house there is.
We've already started going to bed and getting up earlier, not happily, but we are doing it.
We've been clothes shopping, shoe shopping and supply shopping. This is incredible when you consider I don't really enjoy shopping. We're not done, but we are close. (Thank, goodness!)
This year we will have four girls who will be attempting to get ready for school at the same time without killing each other.
My (mostly) organized 14 year old has worked out a schedule to allow each one of the girls to have "bathroom" time. Actually, I think she did it in self preservation, but nevertheless there is a schedule.
I actually feel sorry for my 16-year-old son. He's got to work around his three teenage sisters, one almost teenage sister, and his five-year-old brother, who is usually attached at his hip! No wonder his wants to join the military!
We also have our youngest starting school this year. Although he has watched all of his siblings go to school, he isn't too sure about going himself! I decided it would be a good idea to spend time talking about what he would be doing in school and things he could expect.
As adults we often forget that starting school at the age of five or six can be a little scary.
Things that seem very obvious to us, as adults, aren't necessarily obvious to our little guys and girls.
Many children worry about things like: "How will I find my classroom?" "What if I get lost in school?" "Will I get to eat lunch?" "What do I do if I need to go to the restroom?" "What if I don't have any friends?" "What if the teacher doesn't like me?" "What if I get sick?" "How will I get home?" "Which bus do I ride?" "How will I find my mommy or daddy when school is over?"
Children may also have trouble putting words to the feelings they are having. This is when we, as parents, have to just use our parental instincts.
It is important to realize every child is different. My oldest never had a moment’s worry about going to school. She was ready to go when she was three!
Nevertheless, I made a point of talking about what she thought it would be like. I asked questions like the ones above and gave her a chance to think through the answers. When she wasn't sure, I helped her answer them. In fact, this is the way I prepared each of my children for school, except this last one. He hasn't been as willing to discuss school as the others were.
Actually, he doesn't want to talk about it at all so I've had to be a little sneaky. Instead of talking to him about it, I talk to the other children about when they started kindergarten. I've noticed him listening. Now if he would just talk about it a little!
Another great way to prepare children for school is to have a pretend play school. I've found this works especially well if you have older children who enjoy playing with the younger ones.
Before school starts is also a great time to discuss what the rules will be for homework time, TV time, extracurricular activities, friends, telephone, bedtime, etc. This the time to decide where backpacks and other school paraphernalia need to be put each day.
I've found it is better to lay the ground rules ahead of time. It keeps the arguments to a minimum.
This is also a good time to set up a "Family Information Center." This is a convenient location for children to put all school papers that need to filled out or read by the parents.
It is also a great place to put the family calendar with everyone's schedule on it, important numbers, lunch menus, school calendars, etc.
I hope these suggestions help make getting ready for school a more pleasant (maybe the word should be "tolerable"?) experience. If you have a question, comment, or suggestion for Mom's Corner; please e-mail it to: moms-corner@juno.com

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