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Ebony features professor's back-to-school tips

August 22, 2003

Photo of young boy clinging to mother's legsBarbara Ford doles out tips in the August issue of Ebony magazine on everything from how best to prepare children for school to handling the nerves some parents feel when dropping off their kindergartner on the first day of class.

The assistant professor in elementary education has plenty of experience to back her up. As a veteran faculty member, Ford last year launched a program at Prescott Elementary School in Oakland that puts SFSU student teachers in the classroom during the morning where they receive hands-on experience. Later in the day they study theory at the University as part of their teacher credentialing requirements.

For parents with kindergartners, the biggest hurdle may be dealing with the anxiety of leaving the child for the first time.

"To ease the anxiety, it is important for parents to get to know the teacher, to familiarize themselves with their child's new environment, to understand what is expected of their child and to reinforce those values at home," says Ford, who spent 14 years as an elementary school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The transition process is further aided when parents reinstate daily routines during the latter part of the summer months.

"Getting children adjusted to waking up in the mornings before the first day of school is critical," adds Ford, who joined the SFSU faculty in 1995. “Creating activities during the summer that involve listening or reading is also vital."

Library reading programs, educators agree, are an excellent source of cognitive stimulation.

"Children of all ages can benefit from print-related activities that encourage the thinking processes," says Ford. "Reading groups enhance listening skills, create exposure to various literary forms and allow children to focus and absorb in the same manner that they will at school."

Encouraging a child's involvement also helps the back-to-school process.

"Younger children can read the advertisements for school supplies, write the words for the pictures they see, or draw pictures of the items they think they'll need," she tells the magazine. "As they get older, they can pick out the things that are required, calculate the cost of supplies and clothing, calculate sales tax, and learn to use percentages. This allows children to be involved in the learning process even before the formal process begins."

-- Christina Holmes


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Last modified August 22, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs