Health Matters by Dr.Paul: Back To School Primer

I put together this article addressing some common question parents and child caregivers have about going back to school or starting school for the first time:

What is school readiness?

School readiness means that a child is ready to enter a social and educationally-based environment. In other words, the child is ready to start the process of learning how to do things independently.

What is the role of pre-school?

The role of pre-school is to promote learning in a fun environment. Basically, pre-school should be play in a structured environment. Activities include promotion of children getting along with others and experimenting with new material under the supervision of qualified pre-school teachers. These activities help prepare children for to the process of learning.

What is the role of kindergarten?

Kindergarten prepares children in a more structured "academic" environment. Generally, by the time they are ready to enter Grade 1, kindergarten graduates will have a good knowledge of the alphabet and an understanding of the concept of reading.

Preparing children for school

  • A lot of the stress and anxiety (child and parental) can be avoided if parents prepare themselves and their children for the upcoming new school year. The most important thing is to find out what is expected of your child and what the specific new challenges will be. The more prepared a child, the less surprises there will be, ensuring a smoother beginning. Parents of children with learning problems or other school-related difficulties should meet the teacher(s) and/or principal in advance to discuss the problems/difficulties and to agree to a joint plan on how to address them.
  • Getting enough sleep and eating a proper breakfast: It is important to ensure that children are well rested, have had a good night's sleep and a good breakfast before starting school. Tired children tend to be more anxious, impatient and more easily upset and frustrated.
  • Medical check ups and chronic medical conditions or food allergies: It is important that your child receives a medical check-up before school starts. During the evaluation a hearing and vision screening should be done. The necessary immunizations or booster shots, if needed, may also be given at this time. If a child has a chronic medical condition requiring special attention at school, the administration of medication at school, or any limitation of physical activities, make sure that you get all the proper paper work prepared by your doctor. In this way the school can easily understand what is expected of them regarding your child's specific medical needs and condition.
  • If your child has food allergies, it is important provide the school the necessary medical documents describing what to avoid and how to deal with accidental ingestion of a food your child is allergic to. The school should always have an adrenalin injector on hand that is easily accessible at all times. School personnel should all know how to use this medication in case of an emergency.

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