Adapting to Elementary School

Lisa Frame
November 9, 2010

The transition from preschool to elementary school can be trying for parents and children. Longer days, more regimented scheduling and new routines are par for the course. Many adapt to it like a fish to water, while others balk at the change in routine. Whatever the situation, it's best to not only prepare yourself as parents, but take the time to prepare your children during this time of change.

Little ones love to ride the school bus. They think nothing is greater when they see the big cheese wagon rolling down the road. It's freedom of travel without the car seat. However, they also contain the most feared thing of all to smaller children: bigger kids. Go to the school and talk to the principal. Find out how seating is handled on the bus. If you are worried about them riding the bus, ask that they be seated at the front. They get the excitement of riding the bus, you get peace of mind.

Homework is another big change when transitioning from preschool to elementary school. Spelling words, learning to write their names, reading books, and math. It's also a lot of paper. Keep it in a folder and set up a calendar system. Tell them on Wednesday night that their weekly folder comes home tomorrow and remind them again on Thursday morning. Help them establish the cognizance that the weekly folder will be coming home and within a few weeks, you won't need to remind them. Set up a homework station. Create a basket that has pencils, crayons, paper and glue sticks so everything ready when time to do homework. This way, there is no stressful search to find what's needed.

Sleep is key for school success. According to Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, children who are preschool aged and elementary schools aged sleep needs aren't that varied. Preschoolers ages 3-5 year need 11-13 hours of sleep per night; they usually lose their nap by age 5. School-aged children (5-12 years) need 10-11 hours of sleep per night. A more regimented schedule is needed so you aren't fighting the next morning to get out of the house.

Parental expectations depend on the school. Some schools have a core group of parents always volunteering, while others send home a list at the first of the year with parental responsibilities. It's a never ending cycle of things that need to get done. As a parent, it's best to take on what you feel most comfortable with. However, don't try to be parent of the year and volunteer at every single function unless you live for volunteering. Pace yourself. The school year is a marathon, not a sprint.

Elementary school can be one of the most challenging times in yours and your child's life. They are growing up faster than you had ever imagined and are out of your care for a large part of the day. Preparation is key to a successful school year for both you and your little one(s).

From the Parents

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