School may have already started, but these practical suggestions could still help your young son/daughter (and you!) navigate the beginning with more ease. Here are some tried-and-true tips collected from parents and teachers over the years:
- A full-sized backpack with your child’s name on it.
- No scarves, stocking caps or clothing with long strings. These can catch in bus doors or playground equipment.
- Easy-to-manage, OK-if-it-gets-messy clothing: Get a few pair of jeans or slacks and shirts, turtlenecks and sweaters that are not white; dress in layers, such as a shirt and sweater, for comfort, if it gets warmer or colder during the day; wear shoes that “grip,” preferably tennis shoes, or keep a pair in the backpack for gym days; no slippery soles.
- Get snow pants and boots early – before supplies get scarce.
- Mittens keep hands warmer and are easier to put on than gloves.
- Slip-on boots work best for younger students – no strings over which to trip, no buckles or zippers to get stuck – with Velcro closures, if desired.
- An extra pair of socks kept in your child’s backpack in case feet get wet!
- A permanent marker so that you can label your child’s belongings. Duplicate items are common.
- Velcro shoes, so your child can put on shoes without waiting for an adult. To help children know their right from left shoes, use that permanent marker to mark the inside of each shoe. For example: write your child’s first initial in the left shoe and second initial in the right shoe; draw half a smiley face in one shoe and the other half in the other shoe; or draw half a heart in the left shoe and the other half in the right shoe. Much learning and teaching time is lost switching shoes from wrong to correct feet, picking knots, and retying shoes. Teachers and support staff teach children how to tie shoes, but please help your child practice at home, too.
- No toys at school (or in backpacks.) They tend to get broke or lost, causing unhappiness. At school, children have a wide range of exciting learning materials from which to choose. Please save toys for home.
These tips should help your child be more independent at school and not get belongings mixed-up, which can be very upsetting to children. It also helps teachers have more, quality, teaching time with your child.
Kellye R. Wood, Ed. S. is the Early Childhood Director for Oakland Schools.