Welcome to the 2014-2015 academic year! Just this morning I read another article about school starting, written by fellow-LAR and educator, Nikki in Toledo. My colleagues all over the country are writing about the start of school, and so here is my little contribution for you, my faithful reader.
Hopefully, you have been reading my blog all along and have been preparing your child for school for at least the past week. My daughter was up at 5am this morning and we had to tell her to go back to sleep; she was up for good at 6am. Her bus doesn’t come until nearly 8:30am, so she was bathed, dressed, braided, fed, and posing for pictures by 7:15am! Look out, first grade!
But as I was saying, routines are changing and it is best to make your expectations clear right from the beginning. This is true for both your child or children and your au pair. Summer has been a time of freedom and leisure, but fall is a time of schedules and work. Help both the kids and their live-in big brother or sister understand what will be expected, and don’t wait until the first day of school to talk about it or practice.
Preparing the night before can be a great start. Pack the backpack or book bag with needed supplies such as pencils, notebook, folders, and maybe crayons or glue sticks for younger kids. Usually, the school will either send home a note the first few days letting you know what your child will need for school, or you might check your school’s website for that information. Make sure outfits, including shoes and underclothes, are laid out the night before. Think about lunch or snack plans, but save the actual packing for the morning, if you are going to have time.
The morning school starts, plan to be up with the kids a bit earlier than normal to allow a little extra time. Kids may be nervous about school and therefore may not have their normal morning appetite, but be mindful that they will get hungry. Please don’t let kids get on the bus without having eaten anything! Even if it is a small snack, make sure to offer a few easy choices. My kids like peanut butter toast or buttered toast with cinnamon and sugar. A quick breakfast treat, which can be prepared the night before, is a hard-boiled egg. These can be peeled, salted and peppered and left in a container in the fridge. They provide a healthy, protein-based snack that will help get your little one to lunch or snack without the growlies!
Make sure to check the school or transportation website for bus routes and times. Be out there early and stay out of the road. Drivers haven’t seen kids at bus stops in ten weeks and have gotten into some bad speeding habits, so stay out of their way and use sidewalks and crosswalks, if your town has them. Reassure little ones that you will be there waiting for them in the afternoon, and be out there early too!
Your au pair may be overwhelmed with some of the pressures that school mornings, and evenings too, can bring. Evenings are another topic, so stay tuned. Please let your children know they need to obey their au pair and get ready for school on time. Be clear that, when you are not there, the au pair is in charge of the children. Let your au pair know that every morning may not go perfectly smooth, but it is a learning process. If you run out of time or find yourself running around like a chicken with your head cut off, rethink your plan. Can some task be delegated to the kids? Are you starting the routine early enough? Are there ways to prepare more the night before?
As always, please contact me with your comments or questions. Au pair childcare can provide a wonderful cultural childcare experience for your entire family. Have patience, share the love of your children and learn all you can from your brave, responsible new family member. Have a great school year and check back for more great au pair advice!