Back to School Tips from Teachers-MainPhoto

Back to School Tips from Teachers-MainPhoto
The start of the school year brings a flurry of activity and, often, a wave of anxiety. Along with the latest clothes, the fresh supplies, and the promise of a blank slate, there is also an undercurrent of worry—for both parents and students.

Worry about the expectations of a new teacher. Worry about the unfamiliar routine of a different classroom, or a different school. Worry that the gains of last year may have dissipated over the summer.

But wrapped in those worries, there is opportunity. Students who may have stumbled in the past have a chance to start a new year off on a positive path; those who excelled have a chance to surpass their own performance.

Read Related: Books to Help Your Kids Get Back to School

For pointers on how to make the most of this school year, we surveyed teachers who have witnessed first-hand what separates the students who stumble from those who excel.

Their most common bit of advice? Keep an open line of communication with your child’s teacher.

That could mean an introductory email to the teacher, establishing your interest in your child’s education. It could mean going to the school’s parent night or open house. Or making sure to read and return class information sent home with the student.

In many schools, parents also have online access to grades, attendance and tardy records. In some districts, parents can set up alerts if a child is absent or if a grade falls below a certain level. Be sure that you are familiar with your school’s system—and make frequent use of it.

Most school districts now require teachers to maintain web pages with class information, assignments calendars and copies of handout materials. These sites contain a wealth of information. Check them on a regular basis.

“Never before have parents had such thorough and immediate access to their child’s progress in school,” said one Texas high school teacher. “Even when students are doing well, having conversations about why they are being successful and how they can continue to challenge themselves shows students that you’re paying attention.”

Reaching out to teachers is especially important these days, as educators are being asked to take on more students, more classes, and more paperwork, noted another high school teacher.

“If parents can help kids realize that they need to treat school like a job, it might help the students to take ownership of their education so they can get all they can out of it,” the teacher noted. “This is their ‘full-time’ job until they get in the real world.”

Here are some other teacher tips for school-year success:

Elementary/Middle School:
1. Get your child on a sleep schedule a few weeks before school begins, and maintain that schedule throughout the year. Rest and routine are important.
2. Make sure your child is present on the first day of school when most teachers review important information about class rules and policies.
3. Keep the contact information at your child’s school updated. It’s especially important in the case of an illness, but also eases communication with teachers.
4. Have your child’s school supplies ready. Ask the teacher if the classroom supplies will be used as community property or only by your son or daughter. Label only personal supplies.
5.  Help your child with his/her homework daily. Make learning fun and a part of everyday life. Parents should reinforce the importance of what their child is learning.
6. Be positive, energetic and supportive about school throughout the year. Your child will pick up your attitude. If a child sees that education is important to you, it will be important to him/her as well.
7. Read with your child on a daily basis.
High School:
1. Make sure there is a designated homework area in your house. It should be a quiet location away from pets, siblings, and other distractions. Take advantage of the local library if there is not a suitable place at home.2. Write down important dates like parents’ night and school holidays on a calendar. Keep work schedules, school assignments, family events, and personal appointments in one place so that conflicts are obvious.3. Encourage your child to get involved. Find a club or organization they are interested in and make a commitment to contributing.4. Remind your child to go to class prepared – with pens, pencils, notebooks, binders, textbooks, and completed assignments.
5. Stress the importance of deadlines. Most school districts have strict policies requiring teachers to deduct points for late work. Turning assignments or homework in late can lop points off a grade. (As an added bonus, this will help prepare them for work-related deadlines once they enter the career world.)
6. Emphasize the importance of paying attention to and following instructions. Even the best-written assignment or paper may get a failing grade if it is not completed according to the teacher’s requirements. If it is supposed to be typed, type it. If it is supposed to be double-spaced, double-space it.
7. Sit down and discuss goals for the year. If your child is in high school, discuss long-range plans and make a checklist of tasks that need to be accomplished (college applications, essays, etc.)