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How to Ensure Positive Start to School Year for ID Kids


Thursday, August 18, 2022   

School is starting up again for Idaho kids and teachers, and community members and parents can help keep the focus on positive experiences.

Kim Hemmert, grants manager with Idaho Children's Trust Fund, said there are four building blocks that adults can engage children in to ensure healthy outcomes from positive experiences, or HOPE - an acronym used among child well-being advocates.

She said the first block is relationships.

"Every child really needs one person in their life who is that solid champion for that child," said Hemmert, "that safe, stable and nurturing relationship."

The other three are a safe, stable and nurturing environment; engagement in the community; and social and emotional learning.

Hemmert said there are exercises to help kids focus on these components. For instance, teachers can ask students to share their favorite memory from the summer, engaging all four of these building blocks.

"That helps to establish and remember who those trusted relationships are," said Hemmert. "It's already in that safe, stable and nurturing environment in the classroom. You're sharing the memory of your engagement with the community. And it allows the students to be able to articulate and communicate those emotions."

Other examples include returning students showing new students the "rules of the school."

Schools also can welcome families and children into the classroom a few weeks before the year starts so that kids can become familiar with the school and reduce their nervousness on the first day.

Hemmert said schools are a good venue to reflect on positive experiences.

"For a lot of kids, going back to school is going back to a very structured environment," said Hemmert, "and oftentimes kids do well with structure."

The first day of school varies across Idaho. Boise started on Wednesday and Nampa begins today, while other districts will start closer to Labor Day.

Disclosure: Idaho Children's Trust Fund contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Family/Father Issues, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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