The Guaranteed Back-to-School Question
Preparing your child for the first few weeks of school can be an overwhelming task, whether it is his or her first formal schooling experience or not. Even if your child is enrolled in a “year-round” school, returning from each break has a similar effect. Most everyone’s daily routines change to some degree. While the excitement of the new school year brings with it the liberation of a fresh start, the unknowns of the new school year can trigger an onset of “upset stomachs” or “dizzying headaches”. (Experienced not only by the grown-ups, but the children as well.)
It is likely that you have had some unforgettable summertime experiences together as a family. Those experiences may have been tangible or intangible, major or minor, big or small. Regardless, you will remember them and you hope your child will too. Maybe Sammy learned to pedal his bike; maybe his favorite Aunt Kristi made a surprise visit; maybe it was a glorious family trip to the beach; maybe Claudia read her first book on her own.
One question that is guaranteed to be asked of your child sometime during the first few weeks of school is , “What did you do this summer?”
Here are some of the all too common answers teachers hear:
a monotone …“nothing”
a sheepish… “played”
a meager… “stayed home”
a matter-of-fact… “went to the pool”
Parents and caregivers would cringe if they overheard such responses after all the time, money, and energy they put into making sure their child had an enriching, entertaining, and educational summer. Didn’t they have a phenomenal week at baseball camp? What about that best-ever camping trip? Wasn’t it such a big deal that the first tooth finally came out? Didn’t she have her first sleepover? What about the new puppy? Or all of these, plus 10 more?
“What did you do this summer?”
What will your child’s answer be? If there is any chance your child’s answer could be along the same lines as the aforementioned examples, then you can provide assistance before even he or she leaves your doorstep on the first day of school.
You scheduled activities all summer, now schedule a time to sit down and reminisce about the summer. Use the pictures, video, playbills, trophies, tickets, and any other media that has recorded his or her summer experiences.
If you can put together a mini photo book with labels (the labels are very important), do so. If you can make some kind of scrapbook, do so. Do what you can to “arm” your child with the answers to that guaranteed back-to-school question: “What did you do this summer?”
If you can’t assemble a book of photos or a scrapbook, make a list (hand-written or typed) for your child to share with the teacher. The teacher can use the photos, scrapbook or list to prompt your child to recall their summertime experiences.
Once the question is posed at school, your child will be more prepared than his or her peers to illustrate the picture, write a journal response or talk in front of the class. If you use a PECS (Personal Exchange Communication System) with your child, make one specifically illustrating the summer activities. Whether or not your child can actually use the photos, scrapbook, PECS or list of activities, the teacher can utilize them to help your child.
You did some wonderful things this summer with your child. Now, make sure they can amply share some of those experiences in school when he or she is asked that guaranteed back-to-school question:
“What did you do this summer?”
Remember the spyglass donut you made at your sister’s basketball party?
Remember the fun of your baseball parade?
Remember the beautiful waterfall you played in on our surprise camping trip?
Remember the pie Sophy wanted thrown in her face for her birthday?
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