Whether it’s your oldest child’Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 8.25.38 AMs first day of school or you are a family with a sixth-year elementary student, the start of school is an annual transition to which Mountain Shadows teachers offer the following program appropriate tips.  

While most apply to the children, we’d like to remind parents that this is a transition for you as well. Be sure to leave plenty of time each morning to arrive on time and allow for those milestone photos on the first day!

hank you to Primary teacher Koral Walters who shared a valuable Back to School piece (see bottom of page) written by the assistant head of school at Montessori in Redlands (Calif.).

Please remember that the younger the child, the more prone they are to react to your emotions. While the start of a school year is an exciting time, it can also be an emotional one and children will pick up on your cues.  While your drop off should be smooth, please be sure those hugs goodbye are big and brief and smiles large!

All School

  • If you haven’t already done so, begin transitioning to an earlier sleep and wake up time (8-10 hours of sleep a night is best).
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Think school breakfast vs. summertime breakfast. Proteins and whole grains will help sustain energy for a day of work, not just the first day, but every day!
  • Please leave plenty of time to leave home, arrive at school, and say goodbye.
  • Please be respectful of the drop off windows of time and start of classes, no matter where your children attend school
  • Pick up any remaining supplies from supply lists.
  • Get excited… your teachers and friends cannot wait to see you!

Toddlers

  • Read over the daily schedule and try to mimic a similar schedule at home (within 20-30 minutes).  This is primarily important for lunch, snack and nap.
  • Begin working with your child on dressing and undressing independently.  
  • Encourage your child to “try” to put on or take off his/her shoes, pull down his/her pants, take off/put on socks, etc.  
  • If you haven’t already, introduce a cup or small glass to your child for drinking. Any practice your child can do at home with this is beneficial.  You can also add a small pitcher for your child to pour his/her milk or water.  
  • Your child can get used to opening and closing their lunch containers at home before their first day of lunch with the class. Opening their own containers and putting their lunch onto their plate is an exciting part of the children’s day. If you have a brand new reusable lunch pouch you might consider using it for your own lunch as many times as possible before school starts. The velcro on brand new pouches is very hard to open. The more you use these, the easier they are to open. 
  • If your child is used to being carried everywhere, practice walking by your side. This is very important for children who are in extended hours care. This is their time for growth and independence.
  • Have your child start wearing pull-ups or underwear at home,if they are still in diapers. Offer your child the opportunity to sit on the toilet, but respect your child if he/she says no.  
  • Start talking about your child’s new school community around the house. Mention all the new children, new and exciting work, and the new teachers.

Preschool

Please see the all-school list.

Elementary

  • Have fun during your last days of summer! While trying squeeze as much into the final days, it is important for the children to be back home and settled a few days before the start of the year.
  • Brush up on math facts to get ready for new lessons.
  • Continue nightly reading practice.
  • Go to a museum or on a trip. Remember if the children are excited about learning something or continuing a study on something that excited them this summer, they can continue their research throughout the school year!
  • Save memorabilia from any summer trips for your child to share.
  • The first day of school focuses on important classroom structure and a lot of important rules.
  • Ensure that they are well rested and have their supplies.
  • Please make sure that children have their homework packets complete.
  • Come with a great attitude and ready to learn!

“A Child’s First Transition to School”

By, Peter Davidson, Assistant Head of  School, Montessori in Redlands
2013 International Montessori Congress “Starting Your Child in School”

Young children live in the present and concepts of future time are confusing to them. Therefore, counting down the days until school starts only causes anxiety. Instead, begin now to indirectly prepare your child for school, building the skills and schedules that will make the first day a smooth and easy transition rather than a sudden interruption of routine.

Now is the time to start to develop the child’s independence, concentration and ability to choose. Begin teaching the skills, one at a time, that will allow her to dress herself, help prepare and eat her breakfast, and get herself ready to go. Then simply go on some small outing – run an errand or take a walk – until she is used to the routine of getting up and “on the go.”

A few weeks before your child’s start date, begin to adjust his sleep schedule. Decide what time he will need to wake up to allow an unhurried start to the day. Wake your child up a little earlier each morning and put him to bed a little earlier each night until he begins to naturally wake up rested and refreshed at the desired time.

This is also a good time to begin reducing television viewing in general and eliminating any television in the morning. You don’t want school to seem like a punishment the first day when it is turned off. When watching television the child is rewarded for mere passivity and she won’t be in the more natural state of mind. At school she’ll need to explore, experience and be actively building her mind which is difficult for the child is she has just finished being passively entertained by television.

If you wish to discuss school with your child, do it in a low-key and non-specific way. You might notice the preparations in the stores you visit, “It looks like it’s almost time for children to begin the school year.” If your child asks what this mysterious thing called school might be, another simple answer will satisfy his question. “It’s a place made especially for children where they can go each day to make friends, do their work, play games and learn.”

You can also let her know that someday she’ll be ready to go to school, but try not to prejudice your child or build up false expectations by being too specific about what she will do in school. That way, if she doesn’t happen to paint (or do any particular activity) on the first day, she won’t be disappointed in either you or the school.

When his first day finally arrives and he is all dressed and ready to go, you can announce that today is the day he gets to go to school, to see the teacher and meet other children. Following these simple suggestions can help make your child’s beginning in school as successful and calm as possible.

Back2School Transition Tips