Even though the temperatures are soaring, the back-to-school advertisements remind us that school bells will be ringing soon. A little preparation will help ensure that this school year gets off to a great start. This list is complied after having spent 32 years in the public schools and watching lots of kiddos and their parents succeed – and unfortunately, fail. Help YOUR child have the best school year ever!
- Get into a school routine before the first day of classes. Successful students have a regular bedtime that is consistently enforced before the first day of classes. Students who come to school tired because they’ve stayed up too late do not learn well – after all, even the best teacher can’t teach a student who is struggling to stay awake (or worse, is snoring). You are the parent – make sure your child gets enough sleep.
- Establish family routines that reinforce the value of education. Providing a well-stocked study area and setting consistent rules concerning the role of school work set your child up for success.
- Check out the school dress code to be sure that the clothes you buy during back-to-school sales will be appropriate. This will keep your child from being in conflict with school personnel who must enforce the district dress code. While children (and sometimes their parents) often view dress codes as unfair and restrictive, dress codes have been shown to increase academic achievement while decreasing behavior problems. Letting your child wear clothes that violate the dress code will cause school officials to view you as an unsupportive parent.
- Get the necessary school supplies. It will be helpful to take advantage of the many sales that are going on at this time of year and purchase plenty of supplies that your child will need throughout the year. Nothing is more frustrating than a late evening run to the store to buy supplies your child needs tonight in order to turn in a project tomorrow morning. But that poster board now while it is on sale and avoid the last minute panic that is otherwise sure to ensue.
- If the school holds an open house or back-to-school night, make an effort to attend. In the lower grades, students feel more confident if they have a chance to meet their teacher before the big day. Putting a face with a name gives children one less thing to worry about. Older students also find comfort in knowing the layout of the school and who their homeroom teacher will be, even if they are reluctant to say so.
- Don’t make every contact with your child’s school a negative one. Your child’s teacher, principal, and even the people in the office do get tired of being fussed at. You will do much for your child if you are pleasant in your dealings with the school. Even when you have a complaint, civility goes a long way and insures that your concerns are heard. My grandmother used to say, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” She was right. While none of us are interested in catching flies, we are all interested in having people listen to us when something is wrong.
- Don’t assume that the school is out to “get” your child. It is normal for children to test the limits and misbehave occasionally or forget to do their homework. It is not a reflection on your parenting skills when your child acts like a child. The people at school have seen a wide variety of behaviors and will not hold your child’s inappropriate behavior against you. Don’t give them a reason to hold YOUR inappropriate behavior against you!
- If a problem should arise at school, remember to keep a cool head. It’s hard to be objective when something involves your child – and its natural to want to jump in and demand an immediate solution. Just remember that a calm head and a cool demeanor goes a long way to getting a solution that leaves everyone on good terms at the end.
- Quit trying to rescue your child from consequences. part of growing up is learning to take responsibility for our behavior. If you attempt to rescue your child, you deprive him/her of the opportunity to learn how to handle situations on his/her own. Remember that not all lessons are learned in the classroom and sometimes the lessons that we need to learn the most are those that are painful.
- Make sure the school has current phone numbers and contact information. This allows everyone from the teacher to the school nurse to contact you when needed. Be sure to list the names of anyone who has permission to pick your child up from school. This may seem like a bother, but it will be more frustrating to have to leave work because you didn’t give your sister permission to pick up your child when the school nurse calls.
- Pay attention to grades and homework issues throughout the year. Waiting until the end of the school year to worry about how your child is doing may prove to be a case of too little and too late. Check your child’s progress at every grading period and in between as necessary. Work with your child’s teachers throughout the year to ensure that progress is being made. I once had a parent who after ignoring repeated notes, progress reports, and failing report cards finally called me the night before the last day of school. She wanted to know what she could do to help “Johnny” pass on the the next grade. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I had “Johnny” again the next year.
Ultimately, parents and schools are working toward the same goal: the success and personal development of each child. A new school year holds the opportunity for your child to grow into a successful and confident young person. By working in partnership with your child’s school, this could be the best year yet.
For more tips for a great school year be sure to check out this post. And if you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends on Facebook or by pinning to your favorite Pinterest board.