Tuesday, August 5

Four weeks and counting

Four weeks from today, the city schools open for the new academic year. As impossible as it seems, it's time to get ready for school.

Above and beyond the basics -- lunchboxes, binders, glue-sticks, loose-leaf -- NYC students, especially kids in middle and high school, often have to navigate the city's transportation system to get to school and home again. Late summer is a perfect time to practice.

With your child, figure out the best way to get to school. (Have a look at subway and bus routes, and check here for commuting advice.) Some kids travel solo, others prefer going with a group. Informal commuting 'clubs' exist at some schools; contact your parent coordinator, who may be able to connect you nearby families.

Don't just talk the talk; walk it (or ride it), and often. Take the trip to and from school with your child. Look for landmarks at transfer points, then (deep breath now) stay back and send them on their way, with a cell-phone for directions or for that most welcome 'safe and sound' call. (Be sure to ask about your child's school's cell-phone policy during the year; many permit phones, provided they're turned off during class hours.)

As hard as it can be to watch your child trundle down the subway steps alone, it's a big first step toward discovering the city -- and toward independence, too. It's a big world out there; you can make moving through it easier for your child, with a little practice.

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