EduKids Early Childhood Education Centers

Archive for September 2011

It’s official – backpacks are back.  Every day children dress for school and hoist a backpack onto their shoulders.  While they rush to the bus or car, meet friends at the corner or just hurry up the street, they often are carrying close to their own body weight on their backs!
Kate Cronan, M.D. states that children often carry backpacks far too heavy for them! 

Dr. Cronan recommends:                                                                                                                                                          
-Attention to weight; backpacks should never be heavier than a child’s weight (as unbelievable as it is, children often carry backpacks far heavier than they are.) This is dangerous to neck, shoulder and back.                                                                                           
-Spread books and items throughout the backpack.  Using the pockets and side vents will help manage the weight and eliminate the sense of a solid rock in the middle of the back.                                                                      
-Use a backpack with wheels.                                                                                                                                                                      
-Keep anything home or in school that you can – only carry necessities each day.
Young children are excited about carrying a backpack to school.  They spend time picking it out and organizing all of its belongings.  Once the novelty wears off, parents often have to sort out trash from treasures in these school bags.                                                                                                                                         
Older children carry everything from books and lunch to a change of clothes and shoes in their backpacks. They often leave items in their backpacks that could have been removed long ago.                               
High schoolers that I know have 2 bags that are school bags;  a larger “messenger “bag that goes back and forth to school along with a smaller shoulder tote bag to carry books and papers in school between classes.  With an extra gym bag and lunch bag, these kids have really learned how to manage the backpack school issue!
All of this is heavy.  Children’s bodies have to adjust to the added weight of a backpack after a summer of bathing suits and shorts when often the heaviest thing they carried around was a sweatshirt.
Some other ideas to help with the backpack your child is using:                                                           
-Adjust the straps for young children; backpacks should rest close and high on the back.                               
-Remember that fall and winter clothing under the backpack straps will also require adjustments.                                                          
-At any age, children should never carry anything sharp in their backpack.                                                                      
-Keep food in containers – empty a young child’s backpack every night.                                                            
-Bus riders have to make room for their backpacks on their laps or on the floor.  Practice with young children.  For safety, a young child’s initials or first name only should be on their backpack.                                                                                                                                                         
-Be sure older children are not carrying large amounts of money or valuable personal items in backpacks.
Uniform – check   
school shoes – check
lunchbox – check   
class supplies – check                                                                          
suitcase; I mean backpack – check, very funny mom”                                                                                         
S.S.& parent at school start

School Literacy
The official start of school is here, literacy is at the forefront.  Critical skills in reading and writing, that are part of children’s everyday activities, are now under a spotlight in the formal settings of classrooms. There are many books brought home and reading and writing assignments for all levels and grades. Children have fresh notebooks and pencils / pens.  School books are covered and paged through.  Evident in homes are newly organized rooms and routines that support school learning and responsibilities.  This is all very exciting!
No matter how old your child is, read to them every day. Show them that you value literacy and are interested in what is going on in their childcare center or school. Look at their books with them.    Younger children can tell the story in their books by “reading” the pictures.  Watch how children handle their books and be sure that they learn how to keep books clean, free from rips and scribbles and in a place where they are easily located.
Literacy skills that children are engaged in from the very youngest experience in childcare to the highest level of formal school are important to recognize and support:
rhyming: rhyme names, rhyme labels of objects, sing songs, make up poems…
patterns: clap, hop, create patterns with children, help them recognize print patterns… 
writing letters: first letters in a name are upper case, the rest are lower case…  
print awareness: point out print in the environment(box labels, signs, billboards, etc.)…
writing processes: exercising small muscles to hold writing materials firmly while creating strokes to form letters… 
vocabulary builds: be sure to talk through everything you are doing with your child to expose them to new words, label objects, tell stories… 
comprehension: ask your child questions about a story or other print to determine if your child understood the story / message…   
retell & summarize: listen to your child tell about a story or book…                                                                                                                                                       
associate illustrations and print: help your child make sense of the picture(s) and the story…
Get off to a good start!  School is fun.  Learning is fun.  Literacy is life saving.  

“Literacy is not only reading and writing, literacy is life.”
International Reading Association


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