Chapter 49: It’s Never Too Early to Plan Ahead

Look to the future

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Kids who are struggling readers may feel even more anxious about facing a new school year than other kids their age. After all, having trouble with reading can make every school subject a little more challenging. If your child shows signs of worrying about the next school year, you can use the summer to help her get ready. With a little planning, you can help make the upcoming school year seem a little less ominous.

  • Keep things positive – You can help your child prepare for success next year simply by modeling a positive outlook. When talking about the upcoming year, keep your words upbeat. Talk about the exciting and interesting aspects of school, like trying new things or getting to go on field trips. If your child mentions the struggles she had last year or the times when she thought she failed, let her express those worries, but then redirect her. Every school year contains some triumphs and success stories; remind your child of hers. Then encourage her to reminisce about them a little. Start her off with suggestions like, “Remember when you read that chapter book all by yourself?” or “Wasn’t it great when you got an A on your first spelling test?”
  • Check out her new school – If it’s possible, schedule a meeting with your child’s new teacher. The unknown is scary. Meeting the teacher and getting to explore the campus a little bit can go a long way toward alleviating your child’s fears. Just knowing that she’ll be able to find her classroom and that she’ll recognize her new teacher can be enormously relieving. Meeting your child’s teacher a little bit ahead of the first-day crush can also be helpful to you. If you have questions or concerns later in the school year, the teacher will already know you and will recognize your genuine concern for your child and her education.
  • See if there’s a reading list – If your child reads slowly and is nervous about falling behind the other students next year, see if you can find out what the class will be reading. Your child’s new teacher might have a reading list, or she might be able to tell you the titles of some of the books the class will be using. If your child can start to read some of the material before the school year begins, she will feel more confident in her ability to keep up. Even if she doesn’t thoroughly read the material, it will help her to simply look through it. She might even be pleasantly surprised. After all the groundwork the two of you have laid during the summer, she may find that she can read some of the early material easily and that it’s not all out of her reach. That will boost her confidence which will lead to more reading success.
  • Gather some gear – Getting some brand new school supplies is a great way to drum up enthusiasm for the new school year. If you can, let your child pick out a new backpack and a lunchbox with fun characters on it. Pick up some paper, pencils and crayons, too, if she will be needing them. Getting some things that reflect the fact that she’s one year older is also a good idea. Pick up a dictionary designed for older children, for example, or a calculator. This is a great way to show your child that you have confidence in her growing abilities and that you just know she’ll succeed in the coming school year.