Tag Archives: Head Start


Back to School — Helpful Tips for Parents

Getting the new school year off to a good start can influence a child’s attitude, confidence and performance both socially and academically. The transition to school can be difficult for both children and parents. Even children who are eager to start school may need to make adjustments as they start the new year. The amount of adjustment is really dependent on the child, but parents can help their children manage the back-to-school transition by making the first day easier.

Here are a few ideas to help ease the transition back to school and promote a year full of successful school experiences:

Make sure that your child is physically healthy and ready to learn.

To start the year off right, make sure that your child is in good physical and mental health. Schedule doctor and dental checkups early so that you know your child is ready to begin school with a foundation of well being. Discuss any concerns you have over your child’s emotional or psychological development with your pediatrician. Your doctor can help determine if your concerns are normal, age-appropriate issues or require further assessment. Your child will benefit if you can identify and begin addressing a potential issue before school starts.

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Routines are essential

Plan to establish or re-establish bedtime and mealtime routines at least one week before school starts. Prepare your child for this change by talking with your child about the benefits of school routines in terms of not becoming overtired and being ready to have a great time at school. Bedtime reading is a great routine to start during the summer and to sustain as the school year begins.

Parents: Do your homework. 

You may have received information this summer from your child’s school. Make sure to review any material sent by the school as soon as it arrives. These packets may include important information about your child’s teacher, room number, school supply requirements, school calendar dates, bus transportation, health and emergency forms and volunteer opportunities within the school. 

Visit school with your child

Visiting the school with your child can help your child feel at ease with the upcoming school transition. Meeting the teacher, locating the classroom, lunchroom, etc., will help ease back to school worries and will also allow your child to ask questions about the new environment. Call ahead to your child’s school to identify what the system is for back-to-school campus visits.  Parents can make note of important back-to-school dates, especially orientation events. This is particularly important if you have children in more than one school and need to juggle obligations.

Maintain a positive perspective. 

If your child is anxious about school, send personal notes in the lunch box or backpack. Reinforce your child’s ability to cope with back-to-school transition. Be a model of optimism for your children so that they will emulate your confidence.

Plan to volunteer in the classroom.

Some parents can volunteer regularly and others less periodically throughout the year. Doing so helps your child understand that school and family life are linked and that you care about the learning experiences happening at school. Being in the classroom is also a good way to develop a relationship with your child’s teachers and classmates, and to get firsthand exposure to the classroom environment and routine. Teachers welcome parent help and involvement. 

Mindy Zapata, M.Ed., is the director of Head Start and Early Head Start programs at Southwest Human Development, Arizona’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to early childhood development. Founded in 1981, Southwest Human Development has long been recognized as a leader in providing comprehensive services in the areas of child health and development, Easter Seals disabilities services, education and early literacy, and training for early childhood professionals. For more information, please visit www.swhd.org.

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How could budget cuts impact Arizona?

The White House released a list of impacts to Arizona from automatic budget cuts that are set to take hold this week.

The White House compiled the numbers from federal agencies and its own budget office. The numbers reflect the impact of the cuts this year. Unless Congress acts by Friday, $85 billion in cuts are set to take effect from March-September.

As to whether states could move money around to cover shortfalls, the White House said that depends on state budget structures and the specific programs. The White House didn’t have a list of which states or programs might have flexibility.

The White House says the losses that Arizona would incur as a result of the automatic budget cuts include:

EDUCATION: $17.7 million in lost funding for K-12 schools. The lost funding could result in about 240 teaching and aide jobs being put at risk. Additionally, Arizona would lose about $10 million for 120 teachers and staff who help children with disabilities.

— Head Start services would be eliminated for about 1,000 children in Arizona.

— About 2,300 fewer low-income students in Arizona would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 330 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.

ENVIRONMENT: Arizona would lose $2.1 million in funding for efforts to protect air and water and guard against pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste.

MILITARY: About 10,000 civilian employees for the Department of Defense would be furloughed. That would reduce gross pay by $52 million.

LAW ENFORCEMENT: Arizona would lose $298,000 in grants for law enforcement.

JOBS: Arizona would lose $781,000 in funding for job-search assistance. That translates to 26,000 fewer people getting help to find jobs.

CHILDREN: Up to 500 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care.

HEALTH: About 2,500 fewer children will receive vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza and Hepatitis B.

— The state will lose $611,000 for improving its ability to respond to public health threats, such as infectious diseases, natural disasters and other events. In addition, Arizona will lose about $1.9 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse. The state also will lose $186,000 resulting in around 4,600 fewer HIV tests.

WOMEN: Arizona could lose up to $132,000 for services to victims of domestic violence, meaning 500 fewer victims could be served.

SENIORS: More than $1 million for providing meals to seniors could be lost.

BORDER: U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not be able to keep the same staffing levels of Border Patrol agents and CBP officers. Funding and staffing reductions would increase wait times at airports and weaken security between ports of entry. The White House didn’t provide specific financial figures on how the budget cuts will affect ports of entry in Arizona.