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What Your Younger Kids Need To Know As School Starts

A list of practical things teachers wish your child knew on the first day of school

By Jenny Sites, publisher of Macaroni KID Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania-Stafford, Va. September 1, 2021

Most teachers would prefer if parents would spend time over summer refreshing their younger student's memory for the "tasks" they will need to be able to complete while at school, rather than drilling things like math and vocab facts into them.

As a mom of four kids, who also works as a long-term substitute teacher, I get to see both sides of the dynamic.  

As a mom, I do things for my children all day long and don't even think about it. They ask me to tie a shoe, open a container, type in a password, or button their pants. Or I have to remind them to wash their hands or use their napkin at lunch.

But once I put on my teaching hat, I realize that being 'a mom' to 20 or more kids gets a little more complicated!

Since many of our kids were in school virtually last year, there were lots of little things that we did for them probably unconsciously that they will need to do for themselves in school.  

So help a teacher out and empower your child by working on these practical skills before heading off to school this year:



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In the classroom:

  • Write their name
  • Type their name
  • Learn their phone number and address (especially for kids who ride the bus)
  • Zip their coat
  • Take off their coat and hang it on a hook
  • It's also a good idea to practice wearing a mask correctly, and how to properly wash their hands and use hand sanitizer without help


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In the bathroom:

  • Button and unbutton pants
  • Use the bathroom: wipe, flush, and wash their hands


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Their shoes:

  • Put their shoes on and take them off
  • Tie or buckle their shoes


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At lunch:

  • Open a milk carton
  • Put a straw in a juice box
  • Open their water bottle, refill it, and put the lid back on
  • Open and close their lunchbox
  • Open packets (ketchup, snack bags, etc)
  • Open plastic bags and containers (think lunch baggies and containers)
  • Wipe their face with a napkin
  • Collect trash and throw it away


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Classroom etiquette:

  • Wait their turn
  • Share
  • Follow step-by-step instructions
  • Wait until specific times of day for snacks and lunch
  • Raise their hand and wait to be called on
  • Explain what they need or want
  • How to ask for things (I.e. "May I please get a drink of water?" Rather than “I’m thirsty.”)
  • What to do when something goes wrong – when you feel scared, alone, sad

Jenny Sites is the publisher of Macaroni KID Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania-Stafford, Va.