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Beating back-to-school jitters: Tips from Los Altos teachers


Photo by Monique Schoenfeld, Town Crier

New teachers, new classmates, new course work - all ingredients that can make the first days of school overwhelming for students.

With many schools in full swing this week - today is the first day of school for the Los Altos School District - Los Altos teachers offered the following tips to parents to help their children beat the back-to-school jitters:

Start off with a positive attitude. Carol Raymond, fourth-grade teacher at Springer School, described what many students feel the first days of school as "good jitters." She said parents should make sure their children keep a "positive attitude and a smile."

Gloria Hardwick, a sixth-grade teacher at Loyola School said "don't panic" if things don't fall into place the first day. "It takes about a month for a class to gel," she said.

Nisa Leone, fourth-grade teacher at Almond School, said the first weeks of school can be difficult at any age because each grade level presents change and a new environment.

"Parents should plan quiet, calm activities the first few days of school," she said. Leone suggested having a relaxing dinner and getting children to bed early.

"If parents are calm, kids pick up on that and it makes for a smooth transition," said Mary Ellen Lynch, third-grade teacher at Almond School.

Familiarize children with school, new challenges. Jennifer Fink, first-grade teacher at Loyola School, said the start of school can be an especially "anxiety-ridden" occasion for first graders since it's the first time most of them will be attending a full day of classes.

"It's nice if parents can come to the school and familiarize them with the playground and the school to ease some of their anxieties," she said.

Fink said parents should talk about school with their children. "Build school up as something exciting and wonderful," she said.

Fink suggested getting children together outside of school.

Establish a study routine. Hardwick said efficient time management is key.

She said parents should establish a regular study routine for their children, but they "should try not to over-program the child after school with too many scheduled activities." Keep school a priority, she said.

Get organized. Jean Golden, sixth-grade teacher at Oak School said organization is essential.

"Morning can be a scramble," she said. "Make sure everything is in its backpack the night before. They'll be less likely to leave their math on the kitchen table or a book under the bed," she said.

Georgette Oppezzo, sixth-grade teacher at Oak School, said parents should buy school supplies from the teacher's list of required class materials in order to ensure their children have the correct items.

Golden offered a final tip. "Get them to bed early and feed them a good breakfast, and we'll do the rest," she said.

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