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Celebrate Returning to School at UB's Family Carnival

Release Date: August 28, 2012

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo's Early Childhood Research Center will celebrate its 80th anniversary in style with a Family Carnival to be held from 1-4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, on UB's North Campus.

It's an event that will give UB childhood experts a chance to help parents with the back-to-school transition while they and their families are having a ball.

The carnival is open all ages, and not just families of those enrolled in the UB program. Held at the ECRC in 15 Baldy Hall and the green space adjacent to Jacobs Management Center, the rain-or-shine event will feature pony rides, a petting zoo, a bounce house, live music and other activities for the whole family. There is a $5-per-person admission charge.

"We hope that our carnival will give families a chance to celebrate the start of the new school year," says Kelly Roy, PhD, director of UB's Early Childhood Research Center. "We want children and parents to embrace that sense of anticipation and remember how much fun playing and learning together can be."

The carnival comes as parents are preparing to send their children back to school, a time that, along with a sense of possibility and excitement, can also be stressful for all family members, she says.

"The start of a new school year can present difficulties for families," says Roy. "With a little planning, these challenges can be reduced."

Roy suggests smoothing the transition by trying to get everyone in the family on the same page, and establishing a home atmosphere where everyone is enthused and positive about going back to school.

"If parents are anxious about it, their children will be, too," she says.

Roy gives these tips to reduce anxiety before the first day back:

-- Visit the school before the first day.

-- Talk with the teacher in an informal way before the start of classes.

-- Play on the playground or go for a walk around the school yard to feel at home there.

-- Find books written for someone the age of your child to discuss the transition to school.

-- Help your child count down the days until school begins by making a chart or big calendar. This can build anticipation in a positive way, Roy says.

-- Include your child in back-to-school shopping.

-- Talk with them about what they would like that is special to start the new school year. Maybe they can have more input into that "back to school haircut" or school supplies, Roy suggests. "For young children it can be important that they have a comforting object with them in school," Roy says. "Working on a pocket photo album together with family pictures for them to look at if they get anxious in school gives them a positive sense of anticipation and a reminder that you're thinking of them and they'll be home again soon."

-- Roy also says getting the children in a school-time routine before school starts is important. "Children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night," Roy says. "Adjusting their bedtime to ensure that they can get up well-rested early in the morning is important for everyone's well being. Trying to change the routine the night before school starts can make for a difficult transition for everyone in the house."

Since its beginning in 1932, UB's ECRC has evolved from a small preschool offering opportunities for the study of young children to a community resource providing teacher education, professional development and continued study in Early Childhood Education. Currently the ECRC offers services to about 75 children, from six months through school age, and their families. Infants and parents can participate in a program called babyPlay, a program that includes yoga, Musicplay, literacy and technology activities. Children ages 18 months through 5 years old participate in the preschool program. School-age children enjoy summer camp at the ECRC.

At the ECRC, children learn through play. Children learn to make choices and to be responsible for them. They are encouraged to share, problem-solve and collaborate with each other in a trusting, happy environment. Children from all over the world, speaking many different languages, play together at the ECRC in a multicultural atmosphere prepares the children for their lives in a global society.

Media Contact Information

Charles Anzalone
News Content Manager, Education, EOC, Law, Social Work
Tel: 716-645-4600
anzalon@buffalo.edu