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A birthday and a backpack

As school starts, I am reminded of my youngest child’s first day of kindergarten.  The poor child had 5 stitches in his right heel from an unfortunate accident with a metal door plate.  He turned 6 years old a few days before school started and he was using a walker which gave a little extra stability than crutches.  He was standing in line with the other kids outside the kindergarten room.  All the parents were standing a couple of paces away from their kids  anxiously awaiting the bell to ring.

My husband and I were old hats at this as he is our third child.  The backpack was full, the emergency card was signed and his lunch was packed.  We did our part and now off he went.  I had a moment of misty-eyed “My baby is growing up” motherly emotions, but it passed and off we went to spend the day alone, childless and enjoying it.

In the afternoon, we returned to pick him up and the teacher was standing next to him.  As we walked up, excited to see him and hear how his first day of school went, the teacher stepped up to talk to us.  (Now after two other boys, I took this as a sign that there was a ‘talking to’ in my youngest son’s future.)  The teacher hugged me and said, “Thank you so much for preparing him for school.”  She had spent the day with kids yelling, misbehaving and jumping on the furniture.  My son, confined as he was because of his foot, was patient but helpful.  He waited until someone was available to help him to get his lunch or binder.  He waited until he was called on.  We couldn’t have been prouder of our son.

I hear so much about schools needing to do better.  They have tests to measure how the teachers are performing and there’s more and more scrutiny on the schools’ performance.  But what about the parents?  Where is the accountability for the parents to prepare their children?

We’ve created Head Start to try and catch the kids earlier in order to better prepare the kids for school, but preparing for school starts years earlier.

Here are a few things that parents can do to prepare their children for school:

What's life without a little song?

Most of us have heard about the studies that show kids who study music:

      Can score higher on standardized tests, such as the SAT;

      Can help develop problem-solving and math skills;

      Develop their brains in areas that non-music studying kids don’t;

      And a whole slew of other beneficial things...

But music also releases serotonin and dopamine to give us the same sort of feeling of pleasure that come from eating chocolate.  It can make us happy.  There’s nothing like that good feeling when the perfect song pops up on the radio or on our iPods/MP3s.

This is important in our stressed out world of today.  We’re stressed about work, chores, bills, economy, blah, blah, blah.

So how do we get more music into our children’s lives?  And how do we cultivate an appreciation for music, not just a rebellion?

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