As I write this article I'm mentally preparing myself for a few snickers from the viewers, but here goes...
As a parent, I found it relatively simple to get my oldest daughter ready for her first day of school. We've always enjoyed reading together, practicing abc's, 123's and all the other "educational" preschooler-type activities. I like that sort of thing.
What we didn't do a lot of is "practice the playground". After Tasha's first few days in grade one, I discovered that this parental omission was going to cause her a wee bit of suffering.
This isn't to say that we never played! We played all the time (or so it seemed to me as I eyed the ever growing piles of unattended laundry). But it was typically either structured mommy/daughter time or free play with her sister and one of the 10,000 or so toys scattered around our house. The concept of playing with nothing but a group of kids, a rock and a skipping rope was not discussed.
Grade one began and life was grand -- Tasha was already reading short chapter books and was eager to strut her stuff in class. The teachers and volunteer parents were available to help the kids figure out where to go and what to do. But then disaster struck -- cleverly disguised as RECESS!
Other children (especially those "blessed" with older siblings) knew bizarre hand clapping games, tongue twisters, knock knock jokes, skip rope games, hopscotch rules and many other things -- all of which were foreign to my poor, underprivileged daughter. She found herself left out of the bands of girls clapping away to "Miss Mary Mack".
Worse yet, her feelings of awkwardness spilled over into the classroom (despite her wonderful reading skills). By the end of the day, she was sad, frustrated and just a tad angry that mommy hadn't warned her about all these odd recess rituals -- especially when I (all to nonchalantly) blurted, "Sure I know the words to Miss Mary Mack."
To make a long story short, we muddled through the first week of school spending more of our designated homework time "Spelling Hip-o-pot-toe-miss" than working on our journal.
Although no permanent damage was done, I am planning to do a better job preparing Kaitlyn (my youngest) for her first day of recess. It is, after all, the most important part of the school day! *grin*
For veteran school children, try adding one of the Knock Knock Jokes or Riddles to their lunch box each day for the first week or two back to school. It's sure to bring a chuckle or two to ease the transition!
Mary Flynn from Songs4Teachers
has kindly provided some back to school songs (including a recess song) that
the kids can teach their friends. Requires Adobe Acrobat.