SIKESTON - For many students, the opening day of school is an exciting time, but to those just entering the world of classes and homework it can be a fearful experience.
Some kindergartners and first graders can think of nothing worse than being placed in an unfamiliar setting without mom or dad.
And it can be equally unnerving for a child going from a familiar school to a new school, or from a special education to a mainstream setting.
Preparing youngsters for the transition is a responsibility parents should take seriously, urged Vera Glueck, principal at Sikeston Kindergarten Center.
"I think the separation from a parent is a child's biggest fear and there are some things parents can do to get rid of some of that fear when it comes to school. Sometimes it helps when a parent goes over his or her own schedule," she suggested. "Say 'while you're at school mom will be... and when you get out of school I'll be..."
Tell the child who will pick him up from school and where he'll go from there, whether it's home or to a babysitter. Also include when you yourself will be home. Go over the daily schedule at bedtime each night, beginning with what will happen when the child awakens to eating breakfast to coming home after school.
Although some parents have a tough time accepting that their child is old enough to attend school, Glueck urged adults to try to keep their emotions in check. Children can sense how mom and dad feel about their going to school and a negative feeling can be easily transferred.
Routine is also important during the school year, she said. Children should have a set bathtime and bedtime, remembering that even as an adult, getting used to a certain schedule is beneficial.
To make certain the morning goes smoothly, lay out the child's clothes the night before and decide what will be served for breakfast.
Most would agree every day can't be flawless and children too, have days that could have gone better. Glueck suggested if a child seems to have had a bad experience that day at school, give him time to talk about it, but don't dwell on it, she recommended.
"Then when the child is out of sight, I'd call the teacher and ask what happened," she said. "Between the two of you, decide how the problem can be addressed."
Glueck is enthusiastic about the start of school on Wednesday and said she wants all of her students to feel the same way. "One thing parents can do is put a note or a picture in the child's backpack to reassure the child, they really enjoy that. You want to make this a positive experience because the first two or three days of school have a big bearing on how the child will feel about school as a whole."