Plan Ahead For The Start Of School

(NAPSI)-When summer wanes and fall approaches, many parents will be looking for ways to help their children get ready for school.

Ranny Levy, president of the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media (, suggests ways that parents and caregivers can ready youngsters for the coming school term.

Organizing a schedule at home can help prepare a child who will be going to school for the first time. Parents can set a timeline for chores and activities and be sure that the whole family follows through. Children respond positively when they know what is expected of them and have a game plan to follow, an important approach for any new experience. Levy also suggests that parents establish the school-year bedtime schedule before the first day of school.

Tips for parents with youngsters returning to school also include arranging play dates with school friends or celebrating the start of school with a party. If children have not been reading over the summer, parents might institute an after-dinner story hour.

To ensure that preschoolers are ready for their first classroom experiences, parents can focus on the social skills that their children will need to establish in order to be successful in school. Older children who are returning to the classroom can also benefit from sharpening skills such as cooperation and problem-solving.

With the help of a variety of high-quality television programs, videos and DVDs, parents can teach children simple lessons that will facilitate classroom interactions with new teachers and friends.

Parents should take time to view some of these television and video programs with their children, keeping in mind that, when a child really enjoys a particular program, he or she may want to watch it repeatedly. Talking to children about the shows and planning follow-up activities will provide family involvement and helpful reinforcement.

“We overlook how profoundly television impacts children,” Levy points out. “American children spend more time watching TV and videos during their school-age years than they spend in school: more than 15,000 hours of television compared to 11,000 hours in the classroom. So, viewing one hour of good educational programming a day between the ages of 2 and 12 is somewhat equivalent to two full years of learning!”

“Kids are introduced to characters who, by their nature, are proving particularly helpful in encouraging learning outside the classroom,” Levy concludes.

There are a number of beneficial programs that increase cognitive skills and teach valuable life lessons.

Two examples are Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat and Caillou, both animated series on PBS Kids and part of the Warner Bright Kids: Back to School collection, which includes more than 50 educational titles on DVD and VHS.

Through the eyes of an adventurous and independent young cat, Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat teaches children strategies to help them interact with their families and with the world around them. The stories are set in the enchanting world of China long ago, allowing children to foster an appreciation of other cultures through exposure to elements of traditional Chinese culture, language, music and folklore.

Caillou is a wide-eyed four-year-old boy who learns about the importance of reading, friendship and cause and effect, all presented in a delightful mix of animation, puppets and live action. One other video series worth noting is Real Wheels, which has won numerous awards for its fun-filled look at all types of vehicles. The new video, Real Wheels: There Goes a Bus, is delightful for dads and children to watch together.

Parents should also visit their child’s classroom and meet the teacher in advance, especially if the child is attending a new school. Perhaps most important, parents need to make time to talk, listen and be available to discuss the experiences of that all-important first day of school.

Caillou can lead the way to the fun and benefits of reading.