K-12 Enrollment Learning at Home

Countdown for School!

Can you believe it? In only TEN more days, on August 15th, 2011, SFUSD students will start their first day of school. Based on my experience as a mom and teacher, I’ve put together a list of 5 easy ways families can prepare their child for a successful school year! The countdown for school begins now!

Countdown for School!:

Build excitement for school
Get your kids talking about their hopes and fears for the coming school year. Each year brings new expectations and challenges. In talking with my girls, I found out that even though they LOVED their first year of elementary (they wanted their kindergarten teacher to teach them all the way to college!) they were anxious about entering the 1st grade. If I hadn’t asked beforehand, I would have assumed we were good to go, and misinterpreted some of the anxious behavior my girls were showing when I talked about school. Books are a great way to start these types of conversations with your kids. See my recommended list for little ones or this one compiled by Great Schools.

Let’s Review
Your child’s teacher will spend the first 2-6 weeks in review mode. Reviewing key skills will help your child feel initial success and boost their confidence as a student. I’m not talking about academic overload–keep it to the basics. For example: kindergarteners should know their A,B,C’s, first graders can practice adding numbers under 10, etc.  Now that back-to-school shopping is in full swing, you can find great prices on flashcards and review books at places like Target and Costco. Games are another great way to get your child’s mind up to speed.

Practice your morning routine
Make the schedule shift as painless as possible by easing into it early. Shift your morning wake-up times by 15 minute increments if you’ve been sleeping late, and play games to practice getting out the door. (Use a timer or play a favorite morning song to make it fun.) Whether you have a little one or a teen, get them involved in creating a morning schedule (see my example for little ones) and try it out so you can make adjustments before school starts.

Play school 
Practice school behaviors and encourage a love of learning through play. Younger children can get over fears of the first day by role-playing activities that happen there. Before my girls entered kindergarten, I let them be the teacher and let them lead me through a pretend school day. It may seem silly, but this is a great way to have fun while encouraging your child to feel confident about their identity as a student. It’s also a good way to surface hidden worries or misconceptions about school. It also provides a fun and low-stress way to problem solve real concerns (like what to do when you need to use the bathroom).

Set up a homework station
Get your child involved in picking out school supplies and find a place to organize them so that your child can easily find them AND put them away. A dedicated desk/study area sounds wonderful, but can be unrealistic for many of us living in cramped quarters. To address this issue, I’ll write about some ideas in a future post.

GreatSchools.org has put together several helpful lists of back-to-school supplies for elementary through high school students. I like them with a few exceptions:


  • Ball point pens are not necessary for K-1 students, as they are just practicing writing
  • Spiral Notebooks or 3-ring binders are not usually necessary for younger grades, check with your school or teacher on the first day
  • Dry-erase markers and writing board are not essential but can be extremely helpful for younger children who may prefer practicing writing skills in a way that is easy to erase.

Middle School:

  • Most teachers I know prefer college ruled 8 1/2 x 11″ paper
  • Sticky notes are a great tool for note-taking on school textbooks

Countdown for School: For more ideas…
Check out SFUSD’s web site to can find more helpful tips on how to prepare or browse GreatSchools.org

What are you doing to prepare your child for school?

Countdown for School! Related Reads: School Enrollement

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