Submitted by Gita John-Iyam, SWIS Worker
The last weeks of July are often filled with lots of excitement as children begin to get ready for a new school year. Whether your children are in a new country, in a new school, or in a new class, here are some tips to help ease the first few days of school.
Opening Day: The official opening day of school is September 8, 2015 the day after the Labour Day holiday. However, not all classes begin on the morning of September 8. Check the website of your school or call them directly to inquire about start of class dates; school offices usually open after August 24.
Supplies: The flyers from various stores are full of deals and suggestions for school supplies. If possible, invest in good quality supplies and try to buy what is suggested by the school. One year, I bought my daughter pencils that looked so pretty… but the lead kept breaking every time it touched the paper! Each school and class has its own supply list. You can usually find the list on school websites.
Routine: Help children get to sleep early and wake up early the week before school starts – it can ease the transition into a new schedule by adjusting the body clock of a child who has been staying up and sleeping in late.
Breakfast: Children who have a good breakfast are able to get through a day of learning and play more comfortably. Should children miss breakfast, most schools have a breakfast program of fruits and snacks.
Lunch & Snacks: Schools suggest bringing healthy lunches and snacks in reusable containers. Foods high in sugar like juice and cookies can sometimes make it difficult for a child to sit quietly in class, so my favourite lunches always have lots of little things: small boxes of carrots, apple and cheese slices, crackers, and plenty of water. Most elementary schools have a no nut policy… so do check with your school before sending foods with peanut butter or other nuts. Some schools offer a lunch program at a reasonable cost or on a sliding scale (adjusted to fit family income).
Dress code, Uniforms: Check with your school about the dress code or if they have uniforms. Comfortable clothes that are right for the season are important in Victoria:boots and waterproof shoes for the rainy season; indoor shoes and running shoes for sports. Victoria has a number of great thrift stores where you can find many of these items, lightly used and at low prices.
Welcome Back BBQ: Most schools have some sort of a welcome back program or barbeque. Try to go and visit with other parents and school staff, this can sometimes help to ease the transition into a new year. Dates for the BBQs will often be on your school website.
After school care: Some schools offer after school care at an additional cost.
Settlement Workers in Schools: Kay, Lisa and Gita are settlement workers in schools (SWIS). The SWIS program is a school-based outreach program aimed at helping eligible newcomer students (immigrants and refugees) and their families settle and integrate into their school and community. Look out for us in your schools and contact us if you need any support.
We wish all the parents and children a happy school year!