Get Off to a Great Start this School Year

Dear Teacher

Our kids start back to school this month, and I want to make sure our year goes smoothly. What are some steps I can take to help make this happen? – Here’s To A Good Year

To make the school year go smoothly, a family discussion is a good starting place. Talk about the things that worked well last year and identify those that didn’t. Focus on such everyday activities as the time to get up, go to bed, eat, and when to do homework.

It’s also important to discuss how the children will organize getting everything ready for the new school day such as getting forms signed and handling lunch. Early agreement on all these things is vital. Nothing, however, should be written in stone. Routines can and should be changed if they are not working.

Once the nitty-gritty of each day is organized, parents need to focus on the things they can do to make the school year function as a whole better. For many families, the answer is to slow schedules down so parents and children can avoid feeling exhausted and tense from too many activities. A steady diet of rushing to ballet, sports, and clubs for kids, while parents jam in meetings and exercise classes can just about eliminate the chance for everyone to relax and enjoy family time. 

Additionally, try to make the supper hour a time when your family gathers to eat and share conversation, about one another’s day, current events, or life in general. This helps to keep lines of communication open, and conveys to your child that you are interested in his or her day-to-day experiences. Set the groundwork when your child is young, and it will make the teen years more manageable.



The Value of Pretend Play

I am a bit worried. My two young girls, ages 3 and 5, spend a great deal of time doing pretend play. Is this a good thing? A lot of it centers on being princesses. They have their princess dolls riding horseback and living in castles. They also dress up as princesses. – Pretending a Lot

It certainly seems to be popular right now for young girls to playact being princesses and to play with princess dolls. I wouldn’t doubt if Disney filmmakers picked up on this trend, or had a hand in stoking it, since many of their characters tap into this fantasy world. If you are upset about your daughter’s concentration on “princesses,” you might try providing additional toys and materials to broaden their horizons. Your daughters may, however, just move through their princess phase and on to something else. 

Pretend play is a wonderful activity for children to engage in. In fact, it’s an important part of the learning process and brings many benefits that help preschoolers get ready for kindergarten or first grade. By playing pretend with another, your child is learning to take turns, be part of a team, negotiate, share, and lead. At the same time, children are enhancing their verbal skills and learning how to problem solve.

Furthermore, pretend play fosters creativity. Since young children learn by imagining and doing, be glad they are building so many skills at this critical time in their development.


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