Parents can help kids return to school routine

Getting students ready for the resumption of classes after summer holidays involves more than just stocking up with school supplies.
Returning to a regular routine, going over safety precautions, and talking about fears can help make the transition from summer holidays to back-to-school easier for students next week.
“I guess getting kids back into a routine and regular bedtimes is the biggest thing,” Robert Moore School principal Linda Hill said.
Students across the district will return to school next Wednesday morning, and Hill said the transition between summer holidays and classes often can be difficult.
“We find that it takes a little while for children to get back into the routine,” she noted. “They have, in some cases, been keeping later hours in the evening and perhaps sleeping in longer so it is a transition to returning to school.
“That is why it is important to get into a routine before school starts.”
Hill said the end of summer vacation also is the perfect time to discuss rules about returning to school.
“Parents should talk to them about safety on the roads and safety on buses,” she said. “[They also should be] making sure they have a good healthy snack and a good nutritious breakfast before coming to school.”
Starting school can be especially emotional for JK students who will be there for the first time.
At some schools, such as Robert Moore, JK students begin the year with a staggered entry so each child can have time with the teacher, become familiar with the building, and ally any fears.
And children aren’t the only ones who might be anxious about starting school.
On Monday, Education minister Elizabeth Witmer and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce called on employers to “Give Parents A Break” on the first day of school.
“Often, both parents and students feel anxious on the first day of school.” Witmer said in a press release. “By giving parents a break on the first day, employers can help ease some pressure on parents and on students, making the transition easier.”
This program—the first of its kind in Canada—asks employers to voluntarily find ways to allow parents to spend time with their kids on the first day of classes, such as letting them arrive late or leave early.
“Peace of mind on the home front means happy, confident employees,” said Len Crispino of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We think it makes good business sense. It helps the employee’s family and the corporate family.”
Tannis Drysdale of Fort Frances, president of the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce, said this initiative was focused more on urban areas where children may be attending school across town and it would take parents extra time to drive to work.
Drysdale also said that with the large number of small businesses here, it might be more difficult to give staff extra time to see their children off to school, but noted many already try to accommodate parents as best they can.
“Some employers have already considered it in planning their schedules,” she said.
Whether it be parents or students, Hill said teachers and staff are ready to greet them next Wednesday morning.
“We’re really anxious for them to return and looking forward to starting the year,” she enthused.
Some tips for getting kids ready for school:
•Be sure the child knows his or her phone number, your work number, and home address.
•Plan a walking route to the school or bus stop with the child, stressing they should stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields, and other places where there aren’t many people around.
•Teach children to obey traffic signs and be aware of vehicles on the road. Remind them to be extra careful in foggy or rainy weather when it can be more difficult for cars to see them.
•Go over rules for talking to strangers or accepting rides from people they don’t know well.
If a child is going to be home alone for a few hours after school:
•Set up rules for locking the doors and answering the phone or door when alone.
•Make sure he or she checks in with you, or a neighbour or friend, immediately after school every day.
•Agree on rules for inviting a friend over or going to a friend’s house when no adult is home.

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