As we prepare our children for school, we typically focus on getting them the necessary school supplies, new clothes, encouraging them to practice important skills like math and reading, getting them ready to start going to bed earlier, etc… But what are WE (parents) doing to prepare for school?
If it is important for our children to get ready for school, it is equally as important for us to get ready. If we are prepared, then we are more likely to witness success this year and our children will have a much better chance of getting off to a good start in school.
A few things to think about:
1. Get an idea of what your child will learn when it comes to English (reading and writing) and math this year. If you know a little bit about what your child will learn, you can find ways to support his or her learning at home.
a) Go to the website for your child’s school or school system and look up the curriculum for your child’s grade. Find a few key areas of development for this school year.
b) Ask your child’s teacher what your child will learn in math, reading (literature), and writing (composition) this year. Ask about activities you can do at home to support these areas.
c) Ten Things Your Child Should Know may be able to help during the elementary school years. Activities to support pre-k through 5th grade are already listed in this book, as well as sections where you can ask specific questions of teachers and capture notes from parent-teacher conferences.
2. Prepare your home. Establish a good educational environment. If your child knows that education is a priority in your house, then he or she will come to expect certain things and will probably develop good habits that will help in school.
a) Set aside a work area for your child…a kitchen table, a desk,… whatever works for your child. Many of us already do this, but sometimes these areas become cluttered during the summer and we “forget” about the importance of having this space cleared and ready-to-go before school starts. Ask your child what he or she wants in their workspace and make it something that you and your child do together.
b) Establish or re-establish rules for watching television and going to bed on time, before school starts. If you limit your child’s use of media devices (i.e. television, computers, game consoles, iPods, etc..) during school, you will want discuss this again, before school begins. For instance, no t.v. or games during the week or until after homework is completed and checked.
Even though children get older and feel as if they can stay up later and later, everyone needs a good night’s sleep if they want to function well on a job or in school or wherever… Older children should be encouraged to go to bed on time, on their own, and to get up and be prepared for school on time- with some help from parents, but with increasing amounts of independence as they get older.
If a child is not able to do this by the time they leave high school, how will they be able to function in a work environment or in college?
Younger children should be encouraged to maintain a bedtime routine (e.g. bedtime stories, etc…) in order to facilitate getting into bed, on time, and getting a good night’s rest.
3. Prepare for interactions with school officials (i.e. teachers, the principal, counselors, etc…). If you have an understanding of the types questions you may have or the information you would like to know, ahead of time, it will help you manage your child’s school year.
Questions to consider:
a) Will the school or my child’s teacher conduct an assessment of my child’s skills early in the year and will I see the results? Some schools and/or teachers will test children early in the school year to see where they are relative to certain skills. This will tell the teacher, or the school, if that child is in the right class, needs extra help, or just give them a baseline from which to work.
This can be done initially with or without your knowledge. You may want to see if anything is planned for your child and find out whether you will get the results and what will be done with the results.
b) How did your child’s school perform on the state’s standardized test last year? You may already have this information because schools are required to provide this information to parents, but did your child’s school do well or is there need for improvement? What will the school do in light of the results of the standardized tests? How will it affect your child?
c) When are parent-teacher conferences going to be scheduled throughout the year? How does your child’s teacher (or teachers) like to receive communications and questions from parents (i.e. via email, notes, etc…)?
d) Who is the president of the PTA or when will officers be chosen?
These are a few things you can consider as you prepare for the school year.