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Just a few weeks left - counting down to school

Portland Public Schools kicks off the 2007-2008 school year in just three short weeks.  Will your child be going to school for the first time?  What sorts of things have you been doing to get ready for school?  Stocking up on the back-to-school suppply list that the school sent you?

We caught wind of a new product by Portland-company Blue Lake Children's Publishing.  It's called the Kindergarten Countdown Toolkit, and it comes with a DVD, a stack of Tessy & Tab magazines, and a kindergarten checklist.  The checklist has great tips for building up to the first day and week of school: visit the school, prepare for riding the bus or commuting to school, routinize the sleeping schedule, make a list for things to bring to school, and -- my personal favorite tip -- plan a special "first day" family dinner.

Another great idea is to start to get to know new families at your new school.  We've already been invited to our daughter's new school's end-of-summer picnic, and we already have our older daughter's back-to-school picnic on our calendars.  Sarah C recently posted that she belongs to a google group for her daughter's school, Beach Elementary.  We are figuring that there are many school  yahoo/google groups out there -- like Alameda Elementary, Creston School, Arthur Academy -- are there more?

Kindergarten is truly one of those first milestones you will definitely not forget.  Megan's daughter will be starting this fall, she asks:

Stella is starting Kindergarten (too soon!) at Vernon, and I'd love to find some other families to have some playdates so she might have a familiar face or two on her first day of school.  Do you guys know of anyone?

Are you in the same situation as Megan and would like to meet others from your school?  Start posting in the comments and let's see if we can help any of you connect! Any other ideas on how to prepare for the next school year, especially for those who are just starting their first days?  Three weeks will be gone before we know it!

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You will be surprised how fast your daughter will make friends in Kindergarten. Summers can be busy, especially in this last month, so don't feel bad if you don't have a playdate. Kindergarteners make friends almost instantly!

We were a little concerned when Philly started school last year. Her nature is very quiet and shy, and we feared that we would have a rough transition. Sure enough, she cried her first two or three days when we dropped her off at her new K/1 classroom. Philly had gone to a full-day preschool/pre-k previously, so a full-day wasn't too different than her previous schedule.

We regreted that we couldn't attend the back-to-school picnic. In the late summer weeks before school, we would pass her school often and peer into the classrooms. We talked a lot about the new school, and we made an adventure out of the school supply shopping.

She made friends easily enough after those first few days. Early on in the year, another parent in the classroom also organized a pot luck for all the families in our neighborhood, which is also great. Our school received a grant from the Chalkboard Project ( http://www.chalkboardproject.org/ ) for an online parent/school community board, which helps facilitate communication with other parents. The yahoo-groups or email lists are also a great idea to connect with other families at school.

Our quest to connect with more families at school continues. Toward the end of the school year, families emailed to share summer plans, and some of our kids were able to attend the same summer camps. It's really fun to see school friends over the course of the summer.

Good luck to Stella and all those out there starting school next month! Our family is busy with late-summer travel, but we've already received a couple of emails from old school friends who would like to get together before school starts.

Here are two more Yahoo groups for schools:

FriendsofHumboldt@yahoogroups.com
For parents, volunteers and other friends of Humboldt to share info about school events, resources, volunteer opportunities, etc.

GetInvolvedWithJeffSchools@yahoogroups.com
For anyone interested in sharing info related to Jefferson High School and the schools that feed into Jefferson: Beach, Boise-Eliot, Chief Joseph, Faubion, Humboldt, King, Vernon, and Woodlawn.

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