Make This Year the Best New Start for Your Children.
The day is coming without a doubt. Before you want it to, summer sleep-ins end, the swimming pool closes, day trips to the zoo conclude. Suddenly, you are left with tears on your face, falling into your coffee cup. Your baby is in school—maybe even for the first time.
You can shoo those tummy butterflies and mental anxieties away with plenty of optimistic planning and preparation. August is always an exciting time of year. Students and teachers all get a fresh start. In fact, one of the most exciting things about school is that it offers a new beginning every year. Students can reinvent themselves and become the students they want to be.
Both parents and children can work together to make this year the best yet with a little regular effort toward success. “Schools have mostly moved away from traditional paper and pencil rote homework. Instead, students are encouraged to read every night. Reading, at any age, with your child is one of the strongest foundations you can build,” Kelly Bailey Eames, a Lee’s Summit Elementary sixth grade teacher, says. “Students also should practice math fact fluency nightly until they have mastered addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.”
Eames also offers insight into the approach educators are taking with kids today. “Creativity and critical thinking are important to today's learner. As students work on homework and prepare for class assignments, parents should listen to their ideas and thoughts. Do not, however, be tempted to step in and do part of the work for your child,” Eames says. “There might be a few missteps as they plan and work. This is wonderful. Mistakes are embraced in today's educational climate. A growth mindset, the ability to learn from our mistakes is one of our most important characteristics today.”
Whether a student is starting kindergarten, middle school, high school or college, he will face a number of common challenges. Parents of kindergartners should teach them friendship skills and how to share. Also be sure to teach them how to cooperate with other children—and make sure your child knows he will be fine while away from you. Before the first day of school, tour the school and arrange playdates with your child’s new classmates. That way, when your new scholar walks into the classroom, familiar faces will await.
New middle schoolers and high schoolers will benefit from orientation sessions at the school. At home, try using role-playing techniques to help your older child break the ice, such as talking about the weather or telling someone she likes her outfit. Talk about your own experiences from school years and remind your student to smile through it. Everybody is anxious!
And this is a good time to remind kids how to be above bullying. A concerning 25 percent of public schools report that bullying among kids occurs almost daily, and one in five high school students reports having been bullied. Be sure you talk about it with kids and have other family members share some of their own experiences. And give them tools. For example, if lunch money or some item your child has becomes the target for a bully, nip this in the bud by packing your child’s lunch or keeping that particular item at home. Remind kids to travel with a friend around the halls and to the school bus and bathroom, where bullying can take place. And remember, speak with a counselor or school official to help mediate any problem.
As for the first day of college, you and your child will be able to work through this one. Discuss body image, making good choices, becoming a leader and dealing with social pressures, such as dating, drinking and following the crowd. Focus on helping your child grow his or her talents in areas such as art, music or sports. This is the time for kids to break away and become who they are meant to be. Give them a foundation for success with a quiet study space either in their dorm room or your home. Provide a computer with an encyclopedia program, such as Encarta, and study aid software.
No matter what your child’s age, get involved. Most schools have opportunities for anyone to volunteer. Whether you host a booth once a year at the school carnival or work in your child's classroom once a week, your commitment to your child's school shows kids the importance you place on their education.
If you have questions or concerns, seek out the teacher early. Speak to the teacher first. Remember these professionals are working on behalf of your child and all the other children in their class. Teachers want to partner with families, and a positive partnership almost always leads to a successful school year.
An avid outdoors girl, Judy Goppert lives in Lee’s Summit and enjoys all seasons, especially summer. She enjoys drawing on her personal experiences to write about the nuances of everything wonderful about life.
Goals to set for upcoming school:
- Students need a good night's sleep, a healthy breakfast and plenty of water to focus and be ready to learn.
- Establishing routines after school is also very important. Students should have a designated place and time to complete homework. This space should be in a quiet area of the home and away from distractions.
- Finally, parental support and time to relax are essential for student success. Take 10 to 15 minutes to do a puzzle, read a book, throw a football or just visit with your child to learn about his or her day.
Jodi Briggs, principal, Our Lady of the Presentation Catholic School