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A look at the numbers of students, teachers and new principals in Greenville County Schools Elizabeth LaFleur/STAFF

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As the new school year approaches, parents sending a child to elementary school for the first time may experience a little – or a lot – of anxiety.

According to Dr. Karen Sparkman, director of early intervention and student support with Greenville County Schools, it’s important to put on a brave face in front of your child.

“If your child sees that you are anxious about them starting school, they are going to be anxious. If you are nervous, be very, very positive in front of your child,” Sparkman said.

Sparkman also offers these additional tips for preparing your child to have a successful school year.

• Read to your child daily and read in front of your child

In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study stating, in part, that regularly reading to your child “stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime.”

• Start adjusting family routines approximately two weeks before school starts, making sure you allow enough time for your child to get adequate sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s website, school-aged children need from nine to 11 hours of sleep.

• Drive by your child’s school.

Talk with them about their morning and afternoon routines. Explain how they will get to school and how they will get home each day.

• Be on time to school.

Arriving late to school is not only disruptive to the class but it can also increase your child’s anxiety if they are regularly walking into the classroom after instruction has started.

• Provide your child with a healthy breakfast before school.

Based on information listed on school websites, breakfast is free to all students in Greenville County Schools and students in Spartanburg School District 1. Breakfast prices range from $1 to $1.50 for Spartanburg Districts 2 – 7 and the School District of Pickens County.

• Dress your child in kid friendly clothing.

Make sure you are choosing appropriate clothes for your children that he/she can handle independently.

With only a few weeks until the start of the 2017-2018 school year, it’s best to check your school’s website for important events that may be scheduled before the first day of school. Most schools host Meet the Teacher nights prior to the first day of school. These meetings provide great opportunities for your child to see his/her classroom and meet the teacher.

Teachers give their advice

Upstate Parent polled several teachers throughout the Upstate to share their top tips for success. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Attend your school’s meet the teacher night. Important information is shared that night between the parent and teacher.
  • Make sure to give your child’s teacher an email address that you regularly check.
  • Buy your new kindergarten student a backpack big enough to hold a library book. Often these books don’t fit into the smaller backpacks.
  • Communication with your child’s teacher is key and is not the sole responsibility of the teacher. Establish a friendly relationship with your child’s teachers very early. Reach out to them and let them know that you support them. Maintain contact without being pushy.
  • Help your child set goals for the upcoming school year. These don’t have to be academic in nature. Students need to get in the habit of thinking ahead and planning ahead.
  • Establish routines and expectations for homework and studying, including times and places that it will occur.
  • Know what goes to school and what comes home from school. Become involved with your child in the process of going through what is in the book bag as the student leaves for school as well as its contents with it arrives home.
  • Check the teacher’s webpage on a regular basis and be familiar with the information on there.
  • Attend every school function that you possibly can. Students assign the same importance to school that their parents model.
  • Stock up on enough school supplies for the entire year when they are on sale.

Parents can make a difference by volunteering

Sparkman encourages parents to volunteer in the classroom or school and join a PTA/PTSA.

According to Childtrends.org, “Students with parents who are involved in their school tend to have fewer behavioral problems and better academic performance, and are more likely to complete high school than students whose parents are not involved in their school.”

Volunteer opportunities usually come home in the packet of information your child will bring home on the first day of school. Information about volunteer opportunities can also be found on most school’s website.

Most school districts in South Carolina now require a SLED check for parents who chaperone field trips. This process takes a few days, so make sure you complete the paperwork well before the field trip.

If you are a working parent, ask your child’s teacher for specific ways you can be involved. Some ideas for working parents include:

  • Work at home on materials your child’s teacher will use in the classroom, you can easily send cutouts or other small items back to the teacher in a backpack.
  • Take a lunch break to read to your child’s class once a week or month.
  • Attend PTA meetings.
  • Help with fundraisers.
  • Volunteer to help with school beautification workdays, which are usually on Saturdays.
  • Volunteer to help with your school’s box tops for education program.
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