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Tips, information and advice for CENLA parents with preschool aged children

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Alexandria, LA- School may be out for the summer, but seasoned parents know that won’t last long. Open enrollments for Kindergarten and Pre-k are done, and by now you should have received a letter saying whether or not your child was accepted. It is time to start preparing your child, and yourself, for this new adventure called school. Even if your child was not accepted to preschool, there are other options, so preparation is key.

If your child was accepted there will be a uniform and a supply list as well as a meeting schedule for new enrollees. You will need to make it a point to keep this and all other appointments that the school asks you to attend. Being an active participant in your child’s education will be essential to their success throughout the years.

School Uniform Advice

We all want our little diamonds to shine. However schools have strict codes for uniforms nowadays. That can make your child’s ability to express themselves as an “individual” through their creativity in dress a little bit hard. My suggestion is to buy quirky bows, belts and knee socks with designs to match your child’s uniforms. Some parents will have shoes, a bow and the belt or a scarf to match and to add more color.

You should buy everything you need in advance. The closer to August we get the harder it will be to find things. If you are a last minute shopper like many of us, then shopping online at places like TheChildrensPlace.com, OldNavy.com, Aeropostale.com, Target.com and Walmart.com is generally a good idea. FrenchToast.com also has adorable uniforms and accessories for children.

Before you get anything not specifically mentioned in the list sent to you by the school like button down blouses, dresses and cardigans then ask for approval so that you are not wasting your hard earned cash.

Also, buy the clothes a little big. This way you will not have to replace them mid-year. When they come in the door have them take off their school clothes and shoes before they do anything else. This will preserve the uniforms and also teach your child responsibility.

Is your child ready, are you?

A lot of times it is us that is not ready. We don’t want to let go of our babies. They are so little, and sending them out into this world nowadays can be overwhelming. A lot of stuff is happening and all you have to do is watch the news and tragedy is all around us.

We cannot allow our children to pay the price or our fears to rob them of school in a group of their peers. Though home schooling may be right for some children, you have to truly remove yourself and your fears from the situation and ask, is it right for your child? Nine times out of ten you will find that your child is both ready and excited to go to school, meet new friends and learn.

I grappled with a fear similar to this and have vowed two things, my child will take self-defense classes and I will have a traceable phone in her backpack or on her person at all times (regardless of the schools code.)It is a rite of passage, and with people dying for these very rights in other parts of the world, how on earth can I deny my child this liberty?

Pre-K and Common Core

Common core puts a lot of expectations on our children, so getting them on track as early on as possible is essential. Even Pre-K has expected standards for the pupils to meet. A preschooler, under common core standards, needs to be able to write their entire name without flaw in spelling or capitalization, count to 10 (kindergarten is 100), read short sentences, identify number groups visually, know their A,B,C’s, understand basic patterns, etc. The expectations are a lot on a child, but programs like abcmouse.com can really be a lifesaver to help your child learn the algebraic thinking portions of the new curriculum.

Head Start or Pre-K, What are my options?

In Alexandria pre-K starts at 4 years old. If you have a child in the school that you have applied to send your preschooler you are automatically accepted. If there is a particular school that you want your child to attend you will have to go through an acceptance process. If you do not make the list then you can contact CCAC at the following address and phone number. This is your direct link to getting into head start.

CENLA COMMUNITY ACTION COMMITTEE INC
4008 PARLIAMENT DR
ALEXANDRIA, LA 71303-3017
(318) 487-5878

LOUISIANA SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

This is an amazing program that offers families of modest means access to private schools in CENLA. There is no scholarship program for pre-k and private schools are charging upwards of 5,000 a school year. If you are opposed to the preschool you were accepted to because of the academic level or if you were not accepted to one at all then head start may be an option.

The information above listed for CCAC will be your contact information for head start. The scholarship program is another program altogether, and you can contact them through their webpage, LouisianaBelieves.com.

If you have a child entering school you may want to keep your eyes on the scholarship program. This helps parents who live in areas with less than desirable academic programs and schools to get their children into better academic programs and schools.

You can get more information about the Louisiana Scholarship Program and even fill out an application on the Louisiana Believes webpage. According to the website, louisianabelieves, “To be eligible for a scholarship, students must have a family income that does not exceed 250% of the federal poverty guidelines and must be entering kindergarten or enrolled in a public school with a C, D, or F grade.”

Information, Tips and Advice for Parents

A word of advice is to find out what “naptime” will be in the school that your child was accepted to and start their routing now. It will help them to adjust so much better. Try to get him or her to nap without their favorite toy, because the idea is to get them ready for that challenge at school.

Another thing that your child will need is a lot of practice at independence. Have them look for cars as you to cross the road, and explain to them what to do if a stranger who is not a kid or teacher approaches them. Also, teach them restroom independence. Can your child button and unbutton, zip pr unzip and clean them up without assistance? Now is the time to have them self-sufficient in time for school.

Think about the ease of these daily activities for your child when you are buying their uniforms as well. If your preschooler doesn’t know how to use a belt, then get one that Velcro’s rather than buckles, or don’t use one at all.

Pre-K and Kindergarten are great tools to set your child on a solid educational foundation, and with common core that is essential. Plus, your child will become a more social being learning life lessons and set off on the journey to becoming who they are meant to be as an individual. That can really make us emotional, but we are not the only ones feeling a little overwhelmed.

Though your child is excited, they are probably nervous and a little bit scared too. In the beginning it is a disruption of their safe and normal routines, and they are being tossed into an unfamiliar world full of strangers. This can cause stress, anticipation and anxiety. Some children may even express this by suddenly wetting the bed or soiling their clothes, throwing fits and the like. The more comfortable you are with it the better and faster they will adjust to it.

Simply ease his or her worries, listen to your child and encourage them like only you can. Start getting them pumped about Pre-K well before it starts. Read books about it, and rent movies or watch t.v. programs that will help them get ready. You may even be able to book a little tour for you and your child before school is out for the summer or while staff is still working after school has been let out for the season.

The first day is going to be tough on the both of you, but it is urgent that you not send of nonverbal communications negatively. You have to keep it together, upbeat and stay cool. With a small child it is better to take him or her to school the first day or two. On day one go ahead and reintroduce your child to his or her teacher. Offer a loving bye-bye with a promise to see them as soon as school is out. Whatever you do make it a point to not sneak out on your child. That will cause abandonment issues further down the line.

If your child is a bus rider become familiar with how the children are being loaded and unloaded from the bus at the school. This will ease your mind, because as parents with new school fears we can imagine all sorts of things going badly. Whatever fears, insecurities or concerns you may have should be addressed straight away. Otherwise, your child will pick up on your anxieties.

Be an active part of your child’s schooling. Make your face one that the teacher and principle will remember.

I’d love to get your thoughts, tips and advice for parents who have children entering the school systems in Alexandria this year. Please leave you comments below.

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