2005-09-29 / Direct Answers

Answers From the Teacher

I’m upset because my daughter has already lost her new sweater at school. She can’t remember if she left it in the playground or in her classroom, but all I know is that I spent some hard-earned cash on it and now it’s gone. How can I teach her to keep track of her belongings and take care of what she has? She’s not nearly as upset by this as I am.

Teach your daughter to ask herself the following question whenever she leaves from home to school or vice versa. “Do I have everything I came with?” Then have her repeat the question when she’s moving from one classroom to the next. Transition time in school from one area to the next is usually short and sometimes a little chaotic, especially in the beginning of the school year. Once your daughter has learned to ask herself if she has everything she came with, then she’ll be able to gather all her possessions when the bell rings. You can help her learn this skill by your saying out loud to yourself, “Do I have everything I came with?” whenever you move from one place to another. Soon she will see that it’s something everyone must do to keep track of items such as jackets, purses, or backpacks.

Also, be sure to put your daughter’s name in every piece of outerwear that goes to school. That way, if the garment is left in the playground or in the gym, she can be found and her property returned to her. Find out where the lost-and-found is and have your daughter search through it to see if she can locate her sweater. In September, the lost-and-found is probably a small box in the main office. But chances are, in just a few months, the lost-and-found will grow to a huge pile of books, lunch boxes, and coats. Some of these items will be brand new. Chances are there is no one in the office that has the time to go through the lost-and-found and return items to their rightful owners, and if there’s no name on the item, it will never be returned.

With a little practice, and some gentle reminders, your daughter will eventually learn to keep track of her belongings. Sometimes all it takes is one lost item that was really important to her, and she’ll begin changing her behavior.

My son is going to a new school that’s much bigger than his old school. I’m afraid he’ll be lost if he has to go anywhere on his own during the first few weeks.

Teach your son to ask for help if he’s lost. He can ask any teacher, ad-ministrator, or custodian who happens to be in the hallway. Once your son knows where a few key places are in the school, he’ll be able to find his way around without anyone’s help. Nowadays, most adults who work in the school wear identification tags. If he’s sent out of the room to see the nurse or to go the main office for something, have him request a buddy to accompany him. Many elementary school teachers send the students in pairs to run brief errands. The buddy system is also a good policy for when he’s not in school. If he’s heading off to the playground nearby or at the local library, it’s better if he’s traveling with a buddy.

Send questions to: Answers from the Teacher, P.O. Box 54, South Egremont, MA 01258. Questions may also be e-mailed to answersfromtheteacher@adelphia.net.

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