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Let's Talk School

By Maureen Penko

What's in store for the return to school in 2022? Keep up by checking the health and your school division website in your province for the most current information on the school and health protocols this fall. As I write this article, I notice that August is such a beautiful month. The playgrounds and splashpads are full of young children and parents We are still experiencing summer with beautiful sunsets and flowers in full bloom reminds me of how lucky we are to have this season. It soon winds down and we are thinking about preparing our children for school. There is a lot of be done whether your child is returning to school or entering school for the first time.

Children, parents and teachers all prepare for what the start of school may bring.

Some children accept the start of school easily whereas others may not.

Each child arrives with a different set of skills and the teacher prepares the academic goals and expectations knowing they will have to adapt to each child's abilities.

To help your child enter with ease talk to your child about school as place to meet new friends and teachers.

It is important to prepare your child socially and emotionally for the transition. You can start by taking your child to the school playground often and also practice walking around to the entrance they will use.

Hopefully you have attended the school orientation where your child will have met the teacher and have some exposure to the school building and what is inside. If not, there will be this chance again during the first week to do so and all the while use the labels for the rooms. Perhaps taking a photo of them in front of the building will help your kindergarten child with the transition when you both repeatedly look and talk about the photos. Rehearsal is an important part of the transition.

Having a relationship with the classroom teacher is also important for you and your child. ìAs a teacher I would start school ahead of the official start date and prepare a week's worth of information for the incoming parents I set up the seating, attached names to the desks, and arranged all the supplies and book baskets. Greeting my colleagues as well as planning, and set up helps me get into the mindsetî says Lesley Hilton a former classroom and resource teacher in Winnipeg.

So how do you get your first-time school entry child or older student into the ìmind setî and prepare them for the first day?

Boost their confidence by reading stories about your first day. Reading together promotes speech and language skills, articulation and is a great way to start a conversation.

Select key words to focus on each day to develop the ìmindsetî and the vocabulary. For example, words such as time, days of the week, friendship, helpers, group, listening, kindness, and powerful words such as stop!

Social skills development can be practiced by rehearsing asking and answering questions;taking turns in a game, and partnership with another family member in an activity.

Sequencing and organization can be promoted by using words such as first, then and last.

Develop routines and use them as a dry run for the start of school. I loved the idea of setting up a library this way your child is familiar with a reading corner before during and after school.

Having a creative imaginary area will allow for role playing and language development to take place.

Healthy snacks and water are the fuel your child needs to manage the day of listening, learning and activity. Again, check with the school on the protocol for eating.

The word passport is not something we associate with school and yet it is an entry document to many places in the world. So regardless of the age having a set of photos in an album of summer, or a special creative item to bring and show others allows for a way to start the relationship with the teacher and ease into the day. The school passport as I call it.

Most of my points can be adapted for the older child returning to school.

Some of these could be meeting up with friends over the summer.

Attending a special interest camp or learning a new skill and develop creativity.

Playing in a group sport allows for team spirit and skills to develop.

Travels near and far promotes vocabulary and knowledge.

Using a map and plotting the trip the old-fashioned way or using technology for the trip will make it fun learning experience.

Review the morning schedule and the bus routes if needed for the fall.

Whatever the grade speech and language skills are important for academic success, so make sure that hearing and vision are checked.

Here are some milestones to keep in mind.

What should my child be understanding and saying by kindergarten entry?

Four to Five Years

  • Understands words for order, like first, next, and last.
  • Understands words for time, like yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
  • Follows longer directions, like ìPut your pajamas on, brush your teeth, and then pick out a book.
  • Follows classroom directions, like ìDraw a circle on your paper around something you eat.
  • Says all speech sounds in words. May make mistakes on sounds that are harder to say, like l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, th. Speech is clear 90-95 percent of the time.
  • Talks without repeating sounds or words most of the time. Names letters and numbers.
  • Uses sentences
  • Tells a short story.

By ages 5 to 6 years, Social play is very much part of language development. Starting conversations; taking turns, using expressions of needs and wants, giving information, asking and answering questions and staying on topic and ending the conversation.

Enjoy the start of school.

For children who need speech and language services check with the school division in advance and find out about the availability.

You can always pursue private services as an option if you are concerned and prefer not want to wait.

Feature Articles:

Family Fun that Won't Break the Bank

7 Tips for an Organized & Stress-Free Back-to-School Season

Lunchbox Ideas For Fussy Kids

How to Create Connections with Your Child's Teacher

Being Comfortable With Discomfort

Let's Talk School

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