10 tips for a positive back-to-school experienceby Flint Stephens on 09/04/14
Even though my wife and I have no children left at home,
back-to-school preparation remains a top priority every year as summer
wanes. My wife is currently a second grade teacher. While she has also
done stints as an assistant principal, as a reading recovery specialist,
she spent most of the past 20 years hands-on in a classroom of young
Parents and students tend to focus their back-to-school efforts
on stocking up on school supplies and buying clothes. Parents -
especially those with young children - should instead focus their
attention on things that will ensure the safety and security of their
children at the beginning of a new school year and help them have a
positive back-to-school experience.
Here are some recommendations from an experienced teacher and from other expert sources like WebMD.com:
1. Have children memorize important phone numbers and names.
In an era when data is stored on phones and tablets, even adults
often don’t know basic information that might be important in an
2. Fill out those emergency contact sheets immediately.
They are usually sent out before the start of school or handed
out on the first day. Give complete information including cell phone
numbers and email addresses. Those first few days of class are hectic.
Invariably, there is a student with a problem and no way to reach a
parent because the sheet has not been turned in yet.
3. Attend back-to-school events.
These are good times to meet teachers and other school
officials. With so many new children and new faces, it is not the time
to try to corner the teacher to discuss your child’s special needs or
4. Establish routines.
A couple weeks before the start of school, set regular times for
going to bed and for waking up and getting dressed. Establishing the
schedule in advance will minimize the chance for a meltdown on the first
day of class.
5. Do walk-throughs.
Make sure your child is familiar with the route to and from
school. If there is a bus or car pool, go to the pick-up and drop-off
points. Make a plan for what to do if something goes wrong. Siblings
should know where to meet each other after school. Children dropped off
before school starts need to know where they should wait and where and
when they can enter the building.
6. Have an after-school schedule.
Designate a specified time for homework and/or study every day.
An established routine will mean fewer battles over time. Make sure
school work takes precedence over video games, television, playing with
7. Plan for sick days.
When both parents work, dealing with a child who is ill and can’t go to school can be a challenge. WebMD
recommends: “Before school begins, line up a trusted babysitter or
group of parents that can pinch hit for each other when children get
sick. And make sure you know the school’s policy. You may have to sign
forms ahead of time listing people who have your permission to pick up
8. Communicate with the teacher.
If your child has special needs or concerns like severe
allergies, the teacher needs to know. Write a detailed note or email, or
set an appointment to talk with the teacher outside of class time.
9. Work as a team.
If you feel your child needs additional help, brainstorm with
the teacher about possibilities to help the child. Many teachers have
great experience helping with all kinds of children. Be willing to try
all ideas. Keep an open mind when working together and keep trying until
the child’s needs are met.
10. Recognize your personal role as a teacher.
School-age children spend 70 percent of their time away from the
classroom. Any individual teacher normally has about 180 days to
interact with a child and that time is typically divided among 20 to 30
other children. The primary responsibility for educating a child resides
with the parent. Teachers and schools are resources.
The beginning of each school year is important because it can set the tone for the student’s progress and enjoyment of learning throughout the year. Teachers, parents and students can accomplish great things when working together for the benefit of each child.