The start of any school year is filled with a mixture of anticipation, anxiety, and excitement.
How can we best prepare for the changes that lie ahead?
A range of educational experts offer advice on how parents and students can best prepare for a successful school year.
1. Encourage student-teacher communication
As a middle school English teacher, my best advice for parents is to allow their kids to gain confidence in talking directly with their teachers. Of course, parents should be involved and feel comfortable talking to their child’s teachers at any time, but also encourage your child to learn the skills to approach a teacher and ask questions, ask for help, turn in late work, or anything else they may need help with or want to share.
By encouraging students to own their education and to take the initiative to have these conversations, they are learning important lifelong skills that will benefit them in the college and their future workplace. Confidence is a practice; communicating with teachers is a great way for students to build their own.
The number one thing parents can do to help their child succeed in school is to read to them. Children need to be read to for a minimum of 15 minus every day.
One of the two biggest issues in reading problems is a lack of vocabulary. Reading to children a wide variety of books helps to build their vocabulary, as well as their understanding and use of story elements, ability to predict and infer.
~ Susan Berkowitz, M.S.,C.C.C.-SLP, M.Ed, Speech-Language Pathologist, AAC Specialist, kidzlearnlanguage.blogspot.com
3. Act excited
My tip would be for parents to act excited about their children starting a new year of school. Children pick up (and often mirror) their parents’ emotional and it reflects in their attitude at school. Whether you have had negative experiences with your own schooling, have had disagreements with admin or staff, or simply are not looking forward to lunches, permission slips and homework, keep it to yourself, or discuss it out of earshot.
Expressing enthusiasm and support for starting school (and all the way through the year) will only help your child.
~ Cindy Hemming, B.A., B.Ed, M.Ed, Owner, livingforthesunshine.com
4. Attend parent-teacher conferences
Parents need to go to parent-teacher conferences or scheduled meetings with teachers. The problem isn’t too bad in elementary, but by high school, I heard of too many high school teachers discuss empty parking lots because parents don’t show up for parent-teacher conferences.
Regardless if a child is about to start kindergarten or about to graduate from high school, a parent has to stay engaged with their child’s progress in school. It not only shows teachers you care about your child’s future, but it also shows your children you care about them as well.
~ Kevin Lockett, Author, The Digital Handbook 2020
5. Balance independence and support
While parents want their young adults attending high school to succeed, these young adults are wanting to have their independence and their privacy as much as possible. It is important to respect this stage of their lives. Parents should remind their young adults that they are there for them, if and when they need them. This allows their young adults the opportunity to seek help, if and when they need it.
If parents know the subject matter very well that their young adults are studying, these young adults may or may not ask for help at different times. It is again important to respect their desire to have independence and privacy.
Bottom line, parents need to be sensitive to their young adults. Being over-protective is not helpful. Not caring about their young adults’ education is not helpful. Having a balance of letting them know that parents are there to listen and to support them is essential so that young adults will blossom to adulthood.
~ Steve Sonntag, High School Teacher
6. Cover off the practicalities
Introduce the new routine, before school starts, from time to go to bed, to time to wake up, to some sitting activities, to outdoor play.
Depending on the age of the children, you should have some school practice during the holidays, for example, reading a book, doing some fun Math, maybe a science club for some fun experiments to keep the interest going.
Visit the school together a few days before the school starts back and ask your child to show you the different classrooms and what happens in them. Talk to the teachers while your child is there and describe all the wonderful things to look forward to in the coming school year.
~ Senida Kiehl, Teacher & Founder, Excellence in Expat Education
7. Set homework and school year goals with your child
Create a Homework Agreement: Decide together when homework will be worked on. For how long? Where? Type it up and display it. This will avoid MANY arguments. From now on, YOU do not have to tell your child to do their homework, the Agreement says to! Set some kind of alarm to remind her, so you don’t have to do that either. When kids know they cannot get out of something, that there is a set time and rules and consistency, they will actually be more likely to do their homework with less fuss.
Work together to create a School Year Goal or two. What would you and your child like him to accomplish this year? (For instance: Memorize Multiplication Facts.) Include a few concrete steps that he will take to achieve it. (For instance: Play a multiplication game with Mom every day. Race to beat my time with facts on an app. Write a tough fact on a sticky note and hang it on my bathroom mirror.) Type it all up and display this, too.
~ Cindy McKinley Alder Private Tutor Author, One Smile, One Voice, 365 Teacher Secrets for Parents
8. Encourage an appreciation of learning
I would tell students that learning is a two-way journey. Students should realize the benefit of their prior knowledge and cultural experiences.
Enjoy the process of learning so they may be inspired to go on to higher learning. Students need to know they have choices in life. My quote for learning, If you study to remember you will forget, but if you study to understand, you will remember. Understanding is crucial for learning.
~ Pamela Cox, Teacher at Seattle Central College, Bright Future Dollars for Scholars
Wishing you a happy transition to your new school year!
This article was originally published at findingyourpathbooks.com.