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School Success Made Easy

10 Ways to Help Your Child Have a Great Year in Preschool and Beyond

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Whether this is your child's first year in preschool or he'll be returning for his second or third, you want to make sure that the experience is a positive one. It's easy to ensure school success -- by employing some tried-and-true methods, you'll help your child have a great year in preschool as well as future academic success in years to come.

1. Do Your Homework Before the School Year Starts

The first step on your child’s educational journey, preschool is the beginning of an amazing adventure of learning and discovery. To help make the transition as easy as possible, take some steps ahead of time to prepare your child for what he'll be facing by giving him as much knowledge upfront as you can. Strategies to employ include visiting the school ahead of time, playing "school" so she gets a feel for what will occur once she gets there, reading books about what preschool will be like and going out to buy some school supplies. By getting your child ready now, you'll quell any surprises and uncertain expectations.

2. Make the First Day of School a Great One

When your child has a great first day of preschool, it sets the stage for the rest of the year. By being prepared and ready, you can start the school year off on a positive note. Begin by setting the tone the night before.

Now it's very possible your child will cry and feel some anxiety about leaving you and staying in an unfamiliar place, so if the first day of school doesn't go as smoothly as you would like, don't panic. It's not uncommon for a child to feel nervous or uncertain about preschool. Just be supportive. Kids this age thrive on familiarity so when they are placed into a new situation, it’s common for them to be a bit upset. Your child's teacher will also have some good advice on ways to help ease the transition.

3. A Good Night's Sleep = School Success

Preschoolers should get about 11-13 hours of sleep a night, not always the easiest task. But a good night's sleep will help him concentrate, feel less cranky and put him in an overall good mood -- essentials for school success. If bedtime is an issue, setting a routine at night often helps quite a bit.

4. Get Involved As Much as Your Schedule Allows

From attending open school nights to volunteering in the classroom, make your child's school a place that you visit regularly. If your work schedule allows it, try to attend field trips, class parties and other activities where parents are invited. If you can't attend, talk to your child honestly about why you won't be present and see if you can get another adult relative or friend to go in your place.

If you have older children, it's tempting to skip these types of events because chances are you feel like you already know what's going on, but the teacher may have some new information and it's possible you could hurt your little one's feelings if you don't go.

5. Know the School Scoop

What day is gym? Does your little one attend a computer session? Are library books due back on certain days? It's important to know your child's daily routine at preschool so you can help him not only prepare for the day ahead, but also just know what is going on, allowing you to take an active interest in what she does while at school. When your child knows you are interested in what he is doing, he'll respond positively, a good way to keep the lines of communication open -- an important resource as he gets older.

6. Befriend Other Parents

Other parents are a terrific way to keep tabs on school activities and happenings. While gossiping is never a good idea, it's helpful to have another person you can call on to find out what is going on in the classroom or to check in on upcoming school events. Establishing relationships with other moms and dads also offer up plenty of opportunities for playdates, carpools and emergency situations where you might need an extra hand.

7. Review Your Child's Social Skills

Your little one doesn't have to be the next Emily Post, but she should have a basic grasp of how to behave in public. From using the restroom on her own to knowing to say "please" and "thank you," there are some practical skills that your preschooler should have mastered by now, or at least possess a basic understanding.

When you are out together, go over some basic rules of how to behave, whether it's washing his hands after going to the bathroom to making sure he knows how to open his juice box on his own. Not only will these simple lessons boost your child's confidence, but they will build on his ongoing social growth. If your child is on the shy side, there is lots you can do to encourage her to come out of her shell, like role playing.

8. Make Your Home School-Friendly

Even if your preschooler doesn't have homework yet, it's a good idea to set aside a special place in the house where she can do schoolwork -- coloring, cutting, painting and other activities. It can be a desk in her room or even a cleared off spot on your dining room table. Keep some basic school supplies like crayons and safety scissors on hand. After she's finished, make sure she knows to put everything back in its proper spot -- just like she needs to do at school.

When he comes home, make sure he knows to hang his jacket and backpack up. Prepare his backpack the night before, making sure all snacks, permission slips, library books, etc. are where they need to be.

9. Encourage Learning Outside the Classroom

Make every day a learning adventure. Whether you are in the car, on line or just hanging around the house, there are very easy ways you can build your preschooler's math and vocabulary skills with very little effort.

Even playing board and computer games are productive. They teach your child about sequences, rules and taking turns, important skills that translate well into the classroom. Educational toys are especially designed to help your child learn something, while helping develop socially and emotionally.

10. Ask Lots of Questions

Take an interest in what your child does at school. If she brings home papers, go over it together and talk about what she learned. If there is a particular subject that she seems to enjoy, go to the library and find books that make encourage her interest.

After a few weeks of school, it's common for some preschoolers to act out a little and maybe even show some behavior regression. Relax, this will pass. As he adjusts to the new schedule, your preschooler may have some behavioral issues, but will grow out out of them as he gets used to the routine.

Be supportive. Ask questions about her favorite and least favorite parts of the day and share your own school experiences.

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