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Going back to school

JULIE SUTOR
Summit Daily/Reid Williams Incoming Summit Cove Elementary kindergarten student Megan Anderson adjusts her sweater as teacher Kristi Jurecek introduces herself Wednesday at kindergarten orientation.
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SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit students will head back to school in only five days, but parents still have time to alleviate first-day jitters.It’s common for children and parents to be anxious about new routines, social and academic pressures and unfamiliar environments as the school year approaches. Acknowledging and preparing for such worries can go a long way toward easing the transition from summer into the school year and setting up a student for success.Maintaining an open dialogue with a child about school is one of the most important preparations a parent can make for a new school year.”Listen to your child and talk with them about their fears,” said Summit School District elementary school counselor Robin Ackermann. “Ask them what they’re worried about. Ask them if they can be specific and come up with a plan on how to help. Talk to them about school in general and all the fun things that can happen as well.”Ackermann suggests parents explain that it’s normal to be nervous in new situations.

Barbara Jackman, a Summit Cove mother and early childhood educator, has talked to her young daughter about everything from playground rules to new friends to what her teacher looks like.”We’ve talked about things kids learn in kindergarten and what they’ll do,” Jackman said. “We’re also listening to find out what’s important to her – the cafeteria is a really big deal to her.”Jackman has talked up the move to kindergarten as a “rite-of-passage, big-girl” experience. A mother-daughter shopping trip – without the hassle of a the little brother in tow – for school clothes and supplies was a perfect opportunity to build excitement.Jackman has also arranged for her daughter to have conversations with children who will be in her new class and some who have already been through the kindergarten experience.”Sometimes, if you have someone in the neighborhood your child has met, you can pair them up and develop a buddy system,” Ackermann said.

Another valuable strategy for preparing children for a new school year is to familiarize them with their new environment before school starts. Many Summit schools have orientations and open houses, during which children and parents can explore classrooms and playgrounds, get to know teachers and learn to navigate the school buildings.Breckenridge Elementary will hold an ice cream social on Friday afternoon for its students and parents.”It’s a madhouse,” said Breckenridge Elementary secretary Linda Appelbaum. “They come back all rowdy and excited, putting their classroom supplies at their desks. It’s a lot of fun.”On Wednesday, Diane Hough brought her daughter Carly to the kindergarten orientation at Summit Cove Elementary.”I’m going to make letters and words, and it’s going to be really fun,” said an optimistic Carly.

Visiting school with children also conveys the importance of school and learning.”I think it’s so critical that kids see their parents value the relationship with their teacher. If they see us modeling that this is someone important who we respect, that translates into their behavior and their understanding that learning is important,” Jackman said.For information on school hours, bus schedules and suggested school supplies, visit the Summit School District Web site at http://www.summit.k12.co.us and click on “What’s new?”Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at jsutor@summitdaily.com.


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