Back to School — How to Get Off to a Successful Start

Summer is coming to a close; the sun is setting earlier; it’s time for back to school!

Here are a few simple tips for getting off to a successful start and on into the school year.

1. Build a strong rapport with your child’s teacher(s) right off the bat. Introduce yourself in person, make sure to attend Back to school night (often called Curriculum Night) and then send a follow-up email letting your child(ren)’s teacher know that you and your family are excited for a great year. In your email, share the best way for the teacher(s) to get a hold of you and a little bit about your child that may be good and/or helpful for the teacher(s) to know. And for those of you with middle and high school students, this tip is still very much valid. Be sure to include the specialists (ie. PE teacher, Art teacher, etc…) Taking the time to connect lets teachers know that you’re serious about supporting them and your child in having a successful year.

2. Notify your child’s teacher of any special needs that are out of the ordinary. For example, if your child is deathly shy in a large group, this would be good to let the teachers know in advance so they can be sensitive in engaging your child.

3. Offer your help and support–whether you are a working parent or a stay-at-home parent. Some teachers will take you up on your offer–whether by having you come into the classroom to volunteer or to ask you to do stuff at home (ie. even mundane things like cutting out shapes for an activity or helping them build and maintain their classroom website). Teachers spend a great deal of time outside the classroom prepping materials and lessons so any way to help lighten that load is often whole-heartedly welcomed.

4. Understand that your child is one of 30 (or more) students for which a teacher is responsible. Teaching is a great responsibility and juggling 30 kids along with 30 sets of parents (often more since more and more families are blended) is no simple task. Keep this in mind and extend a little grace when things aren’t perfect.

For children:

1. Get to bed early. Set the bedtime early enough so that going back to school is a smooth transition. Try to avoid too much television right before bed time. Instead go for a book.

2. Have a healthy breakfast. If you need something to go, we love the Jimmy Dean’s lights (they’re breakfast sandwiches made of English muffins, ham, and an egg–microwaveable). Skip the pop tarts if you can.

3. Lay tomorrow’s clothes out ahead of time, put backpacks in the car, pack lunch/snack (if needed) the night before. This will save some time in the morning.

4. Label all your child’s clothing and supplies. I cannot tell you how much schools accumulate by the end of each quarter that never gets claimed and thus, ends up being donated to goodwill. If items are labeled, it makes it easier to return to the rightful owner.

5. Show your child how excited you are for new year and model good behavior at school (ie. follow the school rules). Don’t speak badly about your child’s teachers, administrators, etc… in front of your child. Reserve this for a time when they are not around. If your child hears you disrespecting teachers and administrators, they are more likely to think they can do so as well, which could get them into trouble.