First Day of School in NYC: How you can prepare

Monday, August 12, 2019

September is just around the corner and we know you are thinking about how best to prepare your child and yourself for this important moment. Whether you are starting preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high school or boarding school, you want your child to feel confident and calm. The stress and anxiety of planning and preparation can transfer from parent to child, so we've compiled some helpful resources from the experts to keep you calm and collected when school begins in September.

Make room for mindfulness.

Getting ready for school can be stressfull, but remember that self care is important for both you and your child: Brenda Mizel, Head of School, Metropolitan Montessori School writes: "Recent research and academic writing have focused on this mind-body connection and the impact it can have on children’s brains and their ability to absorb new learning. Teaching mindfulness is a specific approach coming out of this research that integrates well with Montessori’s teachings of over a century ago." Read Mizel's article on "Montessori and Mindfulness."
 

Put away the screens.

Matthew Stuart, Head of School, The Caedmon School writes: "Creativity is at the top of most 21st Century Learning lists. A direct product of a child’s imagination, it can take many forms and be displayed in many ways—with things that a child says, sings, draws and builds. In some ways, it is the very magic of learning, and children should not be denied the chance to have a full bag with which to make their magic." Read Stuart's article "More Digital, Less Dexterous?"

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Don't second guess your decisions.

People offer up school advice even when you don't ask for it. Trust your decisions. You spent the time to find the right school, so instead of worrying, take a refresher on your preschool's philosophy and pedagogy. In this helpful glossary of preschool terminology, Marjorie Goldsmith, Former Director, All Souls School clarifies terms like Reggio, Montessori, Bank Street and Play-based in her article "The Lexicon of New York City Preschools."
 

Try to understand your child's experience.

Prepare at home so that power struggles don't get in the way. Jean Schrieber explains how adults can teach children to gain self-control, respect the rights of others, accept responsibility for their own behavior, and learn from their mistakes. The video "Minimizing Power Struggles with Toddlers and Preschool Children" explores discipline from a developmental perspective and focus on teaching and learning — rather than on punishing.


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Encourage without pressuring kids.

Lisa Damour, clinical psychologist and writer, says "Like all parents, I want to encourage my children to thrive and stretch themselves, but I also don’t want to apply undue pressure and ask for more than is fair. This tension has drawn me to growth mindset thinking. It’s a silver bullet—one of only two I have ever encountered—that simultaneously increases achievement while reducing stress. (The other silver bullet, not surprisingly, is sleep.)" Read Damour's article "The Psychologist Parent."
 

Talk about diversity.

Parents are wondering how to tackle the topic of diversity with kids. Whether it is about your child's identity or learning how to talk to your child about race, it's something that can help them prepare for the year.

Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., president emerita of Spelman College writes "Finding comfort with others who are having similar experiences can be an important source of support. But learning to engage with people whose life experiences are different from one’s own is also an important skill, necessary for success in an increasingly diverse world. We should spend less time worrying about who children voluntarily sit with at lunch time (when they are trying to relax) and put more focus on creating diverse learning communities within classrooms." Learn more from "Understanding Racial Identity: An Interview with Beverly Daniel Tatum."

Larry Donovan, Head of Lower School, Poly Prep Country Day School writes "Independent schools with a focus on diversity take additional steps to support and promote our missions. One goal for most of us in leadership positions is to diversify the faculty and staff with whom our students interact. When children can make a personal connection with a teacher, they typically feel validated, more at ease, and therefore more open to instruction." Read more about "Supporting Diversity in an Independent School."


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Foster independence at boarding school.

Before your teen goes off to boarding school, remember why you chose this path: Peter W.E. Becker, Head of School, The Gunnery writes: "Students need more than conversations, of course, to grow into mature young adults. An effective antidote for teenagers finding their way in this new world is participation in an integrated, holistic educational community—in other words, a boarding school. In boarding school communities, all adults and students agree to practice wise and deliberate engagement with media and devices in the midst of their day-to-day lives as students, friends, artists and athletes." Read Becker's article "Boarding School: Now More than Ever."

Michael Gary, Director of Admissions, Phillips Exeter Academy writes "Attending boarding school allows students to set themselves apart in so many ways. It is, after all, a very small population that goes off to boarding school. And living away from family while at school provides the ultimate setting for independence, as well as the ownership of one’s learning. Is there any better preparation for college?" Read Gary's article "The Boarding School Question."

Maybe your thinking ahead a year or two? If you are about to embark on the school admissions process, our advisors can help. Parents League School Advisors have over 200 years of combined experience as administrators, admission directors, teachers and board members at schools including The Allen-Stevenson School, Bank Street School for Children, The Brearley School, The Buckley School, Central Synagogue May Family Nursery School, Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, The Episcopal School, Grace Church School, The International Preschools, Temple Israel Early Childhood Learning Center, The Town School, and Trevor Day School. 

We have a unique and close working relationship with over 300 independent day and boarding schools, enabling us to provide families with up-to-date information about schools and admissions policies.

Become a Parents League member and speak individually with our expert school advisors.