Healthy Kids YMCA Child Care

5 teachers share their best summertime school prep tips

A female child wearing a backpack walks on a city sidewalk covered in fallen leaves

August is here, and while summer is still in full swing, the thoughts of many parents and kids are turning toward the start of a new school year.

While back-to-school can be an exciting time, it can be hard for kids to adjust from the dog days of summer to a structured classroom environment. So what exactly can parents do to help their kids get on the path to academic success? We reached out to five educators to get their very best advice on how to prepare children now for the upcoming school year:

1. Work on the fundamentals

If you’re sending your kid off to kindergarten in the fall, working on things like literacy, mathematics, and motor skills during the summer will give them a great head start! For an easy, at-home handwriting activity, grab a blank sheet of paper and use a marker or bingo dauber to make dots that spell out a simple word or your child’s name. Once dry, have your child connect the dots of each letter. This tracing exercise helps children develop an understanding of the alphabet, practice letter formation, and improve their fine motor skills.

–  Angela, Registered Early Childhood Educator

2. Talk to your child

Don’t be afraid to have age-appropriate conversations with your child about respect, bullying, diversity, and inclusion. Even in the early primary grades children can encounter these issues, so before your child’s first day, talk about these topics to ensure they’re prepared to join a diverse student body. Discussions like this are also important in the long run because they will help shape who your child becomes as an adult and their ability to function in society.

– Jessica, Early Learning Facilitator

3. Develop learning skills and work habits

Whenever parents ask me what they can do over the summer to prep their kid for the school year, I always tell them to work on developing their learning skills and work habits. These are practical skills that children need to have in order to succeed in school and life. Making your child responsible for their own packing when preparing for a trip, getting their input when organizing activities, or giving them room to problem solve on their own before getting involved are easy ways to help kids improve their learning skills and work habits.

– Jenny, Ontario Certified Teacher, Primary/Junior/Intermediate Division

4. Refocus screen time

I love incorporating technology into the classroom because it makes learning more interactive, immersive, and engaging for my students. To get your child ready for school, try downloading one of the many affordable educational apps, such as an eBook or game that teaches and extends learning. As an additional benefit, some of these apps allow you to monitor your child’s growth by providing progress reports.

– Patrina, Ontario Certified Teacher, Primary/Junior Division

5. Visit your local library

One of the most valuable school supply items that you can get for your child is a library card. Throughout the summer, libraries offer free reading clubs and programs that foster kids’ literacy skills. Most branches also have literacy centres that provide hands-on learning and reading spaces where kids are invited to explore language and cuddle up with a good book.

– Celine, Early Childhood Assistant

This blog post features contributions from YMCA Educators. Our highly trained educators make learning come alive for children in YMCA Early Learning and Care and Before and After School programs by creating opportunities for them to learn and discover. If you’re looking for a rewarding career, visit our website to find out more about opportunities for child care professionals at the YMCA.