Successful School Year

August 26, 2013 in Family, Teaching by Anna

successful school year

Today I would like to share some tips on how you, as a parent, can help your children have a successful school year. These are based on what I observed (or didn’t see at all) when I was in the classroom. I taught Kindergarten, First Grade, and Third Grade, and over the years came in contact with several children, from a wide range of family backgrounds, various teachers and schools, and even different school districts in different states, and overseas.

Eight Tips For A Successful School Year

Tip #1: Value Education!

If you don’t value education, how will your child? If they see that you care about what they are doing most days of the week, they are likely to care as well. If you truly don’t value education…pretend to. They need to see that you think it is important. Over time, they’ll hopefully see the importance in it too.

Tip #2: Show Up!

Go to “Meet the Teacher Night,” Open House, the fall and spring band concerts, the holiday performance, the spring musical, the volleyball tournament, or whatever else it is that you have an open invitation to attend. Not only does this support Tip #1, but it also shows your children that you will have a presence in their lives. I understand that it isn’t always possible, but when it is, make it happen! If they aren’t involved with anything at school, encourage them to try something and become involved. If they still don’t want to, drag them along with you as you attend school functions as a family. Then maybe they’ll show more interest. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to be seen by faculty and staff as much as possible!

Tip #3: Read!

You’ll get a stack of papers from the school and your child’s teacher over the first week (and throughout the year). Sit down, turn the TV off, step away from the phone and the computer and read them! They were written for your very eyes and are full of information to help you throughout the year. You’ll likely learn about fire drills, lockdown procedures, discipline plans of the school, discipline plans of the classroom, routines and procedures for dropping your child off and picking your child up, medical notifications and procedures, dress codes, expected forms of communication, contact information, and schedules…to include a master calendar, a specials schedule, a class schedule, and testing schedules. Fill out and return anything and everything you are asked for. Teachers, special area teachers, secretaries, nurses, the cafeteria, the bus manager, the counselors, and anyone I may have forgotten…are waiting for them!!!

Tip #4: Be On Time!

We all know things can happen, but regular tardiness isn’t doing anyone any favors. It likely means things were rushed at home (or possibly the complete opposite), which isn’t a good start to the day. It also means that something’s been missed at school. Even if it appears that nothing is going on in your child’s school for the first twenty minutes of every day, that is probably not the case. Teachers are taking attendance, collecting paperwork, possibly corresponding with parents or meeting with students, sending in the lunch count, and teaching. Students are oftentimes getting settled into the environment for the day, unpacking, organizing, going to the bathroom, or even starting morning work already. One child showing up 20 minutes late to class can slow things down and disrupt the routine for themselves and everyone else. Depending on schedules, many schools start academic lessons right away, so there isn’t a grace period.

Tip #5: Be On Time! (Take Two)

Being on time is very important at the end of the school day as well. I get it. The drop off and pick up line doesn’t go fast enough for you. But, being late…repeatedly…gets annoying. Not just for those on duty keeping an eye on your child, but also for teachers that are spending time tracking a responsible party down (when they have meetings to attend or work to be done), secretaries who didn’t sign up to run a daycare in the front office, and most importantly…your children. If you don’t think they notice that they are picked up later than everyone else every day, you’re sadly mistaken. Make an effort to leave earlier to get there on time. Books are a great way to sit it out in the car.

Tip #6: Be Prepared!

One way of avoiding a late arrival in the morning is to be ready the night before. Have clothing options out and ready, have all paperwork completed and/or checked and signed, have everything in the backpack before it’s lights out. Don’t forget jackets and boots in colder months, special things for special days, like a field trip or the science fair. Remember to be ready for specials (P.E., Music, Art, Library) on the rotating days they go. This means appropriate shoes, art shirts, musical instruments, or books…all in one place and all ready to go in the morning. P.S. Don’t forget to set out all the things you will need for your day too!

Tip #7: Communicate!

If something is going to be out of the ordinary for you or your family and it will have an impact on your child’s school routine or possibly their ability to focus, let the teacher know. They can’t be understanding or accommodating unless you speak up. Put it in writing and send it. If you need to, follow up verbally. (Drop off and pick up times are great for short bursts of communication.) If you want a reply, request one. However, understand that many, many, many things take place throughout the school day and your child’s teacher may not have an undivided pocket of time to address your individual needs. Give them at least one 24-hour window to respond. I will address communication more thoroughly in a separate post.

Tip #8: Eat, Sleep, and Do Homework!

Make sure your child is eating regularly. They can’t focus if they’re too hungry. Provide nutritious meals too. Don’t load them up with sugar and expect them to last the entire day. At some point they’ll come down from that sugar high and have no energy. Water is always the best choice for a drink. Kids are active and they (just like anyone) need water. Sleep is not overrated. Kids need sleep. More than they (or we) think they do. Set a bedtime and stick with it. During the summer or while on vacation, it may not make any difference to you or your child’s caregiver if they sleep in or get up early and are cranky all day, but during the school day, fatigue doesn’t help a child do their job well. Pssst…their job is doing their best in school!

Homework needs its own paragraph, and maybe it’s own separate post too. Whether you think your child should learn everything at school or not, they learn from you and you’re one of their teachers. Make it a point to have them complete their homework as early as possible after school. The earlier it’s done, the earlier everyone can move on with the day. Don’t turn on the TV or allow computer time until it’s over, or you’re just asking to lose this battle. Your homework is seeing that your child does their homework. Look at what they are learning. Read what the papers say. Observe your child complete the assigned tasks. Go over it with them. Look through their backpacks and folders for any notes from the teacher or school. Follow through by signing and returning them, marking your calendar, filling out the reading log, or whatever else needs to be done. If there’s ever a question, don’t be afraid to ask your child or the teacher for clarification. It is your responsibility to teach your children responsibility.

Do you think this may help your students or children have a succesful school year?