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Educator Meghan Keeley shares her best back-to-school practises & tips for parents!

It’s that time of year again, when we’re all enjoying the hot summer months with our kids, school’s out and the back to school time still feels distant. But for some parents, whose children will be new to school in September, this is when you need to start thinking about getting your child school-ready. As a kindergarten teacher I am quite familiar with this experience and would like to share some things you can do for your family to prepare as we are about to go into the back-to-school season.

Since most children in BC start school at age 5 , I would hope that using the toilet will not be an issue for most, but go over what to do in the washroom with your child. Remind them of things such as wiping up after themselves, always flushing, and washing hands properly with soap and water. This will help your child avoid getting sick and make their teacher’s job a little bit easier.

Another thing that is important and often overlooked by parents is getting your child to dress and undress themselves. This means sweaters, jackets, pants and shoes. Practice zipping zippers, doing up buttons, and ensure they can put on their own shoes without help from an adult. That means no laces! Unless you are willing to take the time to teach them how to tie their shoes, please do not send them to school with laces. Trust me, all of the teachers out there will silently thank you for this! Another good idea is to label your child’s clothing items, including shoes, because they may have the same things as others in their class. This is especially true if they are wearing uniforms at school.

In terms of academic things you can do to help prepare your child, I think you already know from my previous articles that I highly recommend reading as much as possible, but you can also start recognizing the alphabet (in lower case please!) and knowing the sounds that they make. If you are unsure what the correct pronunciation of letter sounds are, I suggest watching this YouTube video to help you both learn. Plus, it’s a fun song for your child to sing along to! If your child is able to hold a writing utensil already then get them to practice writing their own name even if it’s copying it. You can also start on basic numeracy by counting from 0-10 or 20 with them, and trying to recognize these numbers as well. I like to use the number counting videos for children age 4-5 in short spurts. Here are the links to the counting videos from 1-10 and from 1-20. Music is a great way for children to learn!

The next tip I would give parents is to establish a morning and bedtime routine a few weeks before the beginning of school. This will be the routine that you will have daily to get ready for the day, and then making sure they are in bed by the right time to have enough energy to sustain them at school. Getting them into this routine a few weeks before school starts will make the transition much easier for both of you come September.

The last thing I recommend is to consistently have a positive attitude when talking to your children about school. It’s a very big change for everyone and it’s important not to transfer your anxiety onto your child, and to try to ease any anxiety your child may be having before this important experience by talking things through with them. Ask them questions about what they may specifically be worried about and try to come up with solutions and strategies to address those issues. Remember that we want their first year at school to be a positive one, and to instil a love of learning in them. Good luck parents!


– Article by Meghan Keeley. Get to know her below.


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Get to know the author:

Meghan Keely portrait photoHi, my name is Meghan Keeley and I’ve been gaining a lot of experience working with children ever since I was old enough to babysit! I’ve worked in camps, daycare, as a nanny, and as a teacher. I also studied psychology in my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph. I’ve had a unique journey to teaching by working in the field, and then finally deciding to go to teacher’s college in New Zealand. After graduating from that programme, I was offered a teaching job in London, England and was lucky enough to teach there for two fantastic years! Through all of my experiences, and with a background in psychology, I have become very compassionate about children’s mental health and those with special needs – especially when it comes to education. I hope to continue to support families in a holistic way starting with education. As the Kiwis teach, ‘education is about the whole whanau (family)’. I am happy to share my opinions and international experience to help others. Thanks for reading!