September 2006

Back to School Tips

Author: Teresa Fitzgibbons

It’s time for students to say goodbye to summer vacation and hello to a new school year. There’s no better time to lay the foundation for a successful academic year than in the first few weeks.

One of the best things parents can do for their children is to open the lines of communication. Make an effort to meet your child’s teacher(s) and familiarize yourself with the school. Plan to attend Open Houses, Parents’ Nights, and Conferences. Learn about the school’s website so you can stay informed throughout the year. Ask your child about their day – everyday. While younger students may bubble over with information when asked “How was your day?” – older students are likely to respond better to direct questions, such as “How was the math test?”

Help your child set some goals for the upcoming school year. Put them in writing and leave them someplace where they’re easy to see. Kids need help identifying goals that are specific and attainable. It may be impractical for a high school junior with a “C” average to strive to be valedictorian – instead, suggest raising a few of those C’s to B’s. Likewise, a struggling reader should be encouraged to read for twenty minutes a night as opposed to completing a certain amount of books. Your child’s teacher can be an enormous help with goal setting.

Encourage your child throughout the year. You can hide short notes of congratulations in their backpack or leave messages on their cell phones. Plan rewards when progress is made, but nothing too elaborate, the best reward should be the success your child feels.

Make it possible for your child to succeed. Help them learn to study by making flashcards for everything from math facts to vocabulary words. Teach your child to use their textbooks for note taking, reviewing, and test preparation. If you need tips, see your child’s teacher.

Established time for homework as part of your family routine is invaluable for a child. On nights when completing assignments doesn’t take the entire allotted time, encourage your child to read or review. Create a particular study area – not their room or an area where there are likely to be distractions – and be certain that it is stocked with all necessary supplies.

If your child struggles with organization there are a number of things that may help. Color coordinate notebooks and folders for particular classes or to match textbooks. Keep a calendar where you can write down upcoming tests and project due dates. Break down study time or the steps to complete a long-term project for your child into smaller tasks and determine on the calendar when they’re to be completed. You may have to plan to check your child’s desk or locker occasionally.

Kids that struggle with organization simply need more help. You may have to get them in the habit of bringing home all of their books, notebooks, and folders after school in order to be sure they have what is needed; you may also have to check in the morning to be sure they are taking everything back.

Provide your children with the support and tools needed to be successful. Be open to suggestions from teachers. Academic success is the result of students, teachers, and parents working together. Help your child to understand you’re all on the same side and share the same goal – a bright future for your child.

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