Some Tips To Start The School Year Off on a Good Note

Where did the summer go?  It just seems like yesterday I was searching for a June read of the month and congratulating the graduating seniors of Carlson High School.  Monday, I head back to work for what I hope to be another amazing school year.  While 2011 has been a tough year for public education, I still love my job and have no desire to look for other employment.  I also love my "job" as a father now that my oldest child is in elementary school.  With thirteen years experience working in the public schools and two years experience as a parent of a school aged child I wanted to share some tips I think can be helpful for your children as they start the school year.

  • Get to know your child's teachers.  Attend the open house and conferences if possible.  A strong relationship with the teachers at your child's school will only help their education.  Keep in touch with teachers via email after the open house.  Keep in mind, it may take some time for a teacher to return an email.  I think it is fair to give teachers at least 24 hours considering they are busy during most of the work day.

  • Take advantage of social media sites your school and/or district may have established.  Many schools have created official Facebook and/or Twitter accounts.  Districts may also offer a listserv account to join that will keep you up to date of happenings via email.  The Gibraltar School District offers many of these options to help keep parents and community members informed.

  • One of the most important skills needed to succeed in school is organization.  Make sure older students take advantage of calendars on their smart phones.  Help your younger students keep their work organized in their class folders.  Some teachers have their own web pages or online calendars to help with organization.  Some districts also allow parents to access the grade book online at home.  Take advantage of the all of the new technology available to help your student.

  • Encourage some quiet/study time nightly.  Communicate with your children and ask if they have any homework.  Take part in their homework and projects.  If there is no homework encourage a little outside reading.  Lead by example by finding something to read as well.  Kids pick up on their parents' habits, both the good and bad habits.

  • Keep in mind, all children learn differently.  That can include differences between your own children.  Not everyone can grasp the same concepts immediately and without difficulty.  I can already see my daughter is like me and struggles with math while loving reading and writing.  Try to find ways to help if your child is having problems.  Many high schools offer tutoring through the school's National Honor Society program.  Check with your local high school.

  • Make sure you children have breakfast.  Just like everyone else, I am often rushing out the door in the morning, but I try to have something to eat.  Without a good breakfast, most students will start to struggle before lunch time.  The school day can be a long day, especially for the younger students.  Along with the breakfast, make sure your children get enough sleep.  Start rolling back bedtime a little bit this week if you have yet to do so.

These are just a few tips that I thought of this morning as I was writing an introduction letter to my daughter's second grade teacher (the teacher requested parents write an introduction letter).  These basic tips can help the school year run much smoother.  Be sure to use all of this new technology to help your children succeed this school year.

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