10 Tips for a Great School Year
Simple ways you, as a parent, can help ensure a successful year
The author’s daughter, Blair, poses for a photo with her second-grade teacher, Tracy Faircloth, and assistant teacher, Carolyn Leary, at White Oak Elementary School in Edenton.
Photo courtesy of Adrian Wood
All over this great state, families are gearing up for the beginning of a new school year (or are in total denial). As you enthusiastically prepare for the first day of school, here are a few ways you, as a parent, can help ensure a successful year.
1. Wipe the slate clean. Whether or not your child had a fantastic teacher last year, it’s time to start anew. Relinquish grudges and expect a good experience. Your example will go a long way for your child, and may deter her from become a serial complainer.
2. Reach out to your child’s teacher on a personal level. Introduce yourself via email or whatever digital communication the teacher prefers, and share a few of your child’s character traits — good and bad — with the teacher. Keep it light and, most importantly, be supportive.
3. Volunteer. Time is valuable to school administrators and teachers. Even if you can’t be in the classroom on a regular basis, consider organizing a class party or sending in popsicles for a special treat. Ask your child’s teacher if there are ways you can help at home, or what wish list items he or she still needs.
4. Be positive. Take time to acknowledge the good things that happen at school with your child, such as a conversation during which your child boasted about her teacher or reported on a fun activity. Consider sharing this with the teacher and principal the next time you see them.
5. Spend time with your child at school. Do something to show your child you are invested in his school and education — whether you take flowers to the office or read to your child’s class. Join your child and her friends for lunch, if the school permits it.
6. Join the PTA. Again, everyone is busy, but there are simple, time-efficient ways to help the PTA, from planning a teacher lunch to manning a booth at the school carnival.
7. Expect a few glitches at the beginning of the school year. It takes a little time for students, teachers and administrators to iron out the kinks. Don’t be too hasty with a complaint via phone or email; however …
8. Speak up. If something seems amiss, it’s reasonable to ask questions. If you’re bothered by something your child shares with you, call or email the teacher to discuss it.
9. Include all families. Every school year there will most likely be new children who have moved to the area or transferred from another school. Encourage your child to reach out to the new student(s). Invite him or her over to play. Don’t forget about children with special needs — many of whom rarely get invited to parties. The same goes for you reaching out to these students’ parents. It’s never a bad thing to practice what you preach.
10. Remember, change begins with you. Model kindness and acceptance, offer help and time, expect greatness and commitment, and be openly thankful. Fuel the flames for a positive environment and make sure teachers feel loved and appreciated by both your student and you.
Adrian H. Wood, Ph.D., is a North Carolina writer who lives in Edenton with her husband and four children, the youngest of whom has extra-special needs. Read more of her writing at talesofaneducateddebutante.com.