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Back to School Tips for PreSchoolers

By Maya Garrett on August 23rd, 2012

IMG_6077For most local students, a new school year is beginning or is just around the corner. Whether it’s your child’s first day of child care, PreK or Kindergarten, the first day of school is filled with excitement and possibilities. To ensure that the transition to school is as smooth as possible for our community’s youngest learners, here are a few tips:

Enroll your child in a high-quality program. Research has shown that preschool is the foundation for success for all children. Quality early care and education can provide children with strong social and cognitive skills that help them succeed in later grades and improve their chances of attending high school. The benefits of high-quality early education are especially profound for low-income children. AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation, CentroNía, and Hopkins House Preschool Academy are three Grantee Partners of The Women’s Foundation that work to provide young learners with a rigorous curriculum, highly trained teachers, and a warm, nurturing environment. Both schools are committed to making their programs affordable and accessible to as many families as possible.

Become familiar with your child’s teacher and their expectations for the upcoming year. When reliable connections are developed between families, schools, and the broader community, children can journey to and from each environment supported by a system that meets their unique developmental needs. Fairfax Futures, a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner, has established Neighborhood School Readiness teams to connect child care providers, teachers, students and families. By participating in programs like this and getting to know your child’s teacher, you’ll make the transition between school and home easier and be better prepared to help your child with school-related activities.

Make sure that your child has all of their immunizations and a physical. Immunizations protect children from serious illnesses that can cause health problems. Many schools and childcare centers require children to have proof that they’ve had certain vaccines before they can enroll. Click here for DC’s regulations, here for Maryland’s, and click here to find out what vaccines children in Virginia need before the first day of school. For low and moderate-income families without health insurance, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program provide options for coverage and payment.

Ensure that your child has a healthy breakfast and lunch. A healthy, filling breakfast will mean children are more likely to participate in activities, pay attention, and maintain a healthy weight, according to kidshealth.org. For many families in our community, it might be difficult to provide children with breakfast every morning. DC Hunger Solutions, a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner, has information on a program that provides children with free breakfasts.

Make every effort to give your child 10 hours of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation reports that sleep is critical to healthy mental and physical development. Most children spend 40 percent of their time sleeping! To ensure that your preschooler gets the adequate amount of sleep to prepare them for a productive day of learning, the Sleep Foundation recommends maintaining a regular sleep schedule, having a relaxing bedtime routine, and putting the child to sleep in a room that is dark, quiet and cool.

We hope that everyone in the DC region has a healthy and happy school year!

Maya Garrett is the Early Care and Education program officer at The Women’s Foundation.

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