I recently began reading the book The Last Day of Summer by Lamar Giles and I came across the letters in all capitals BTSFOASTG, which the grandmother wrote on the calendar and circled in red letters. The letters are an acronym, which means “back to school for Otto and Sheed, thank goodness!”
Perhaps you are like the grandmother in the book and you have been counting down until school starts. Alas here it is…As you and your child (ren) embark on another school year, here are a few tips for a successful school year.
1. Meet the classroom teacher and discuss the best way to communicate with one another. After meeting your child’s teacher, find out how the teacher will communicate with you and how you can communicate with the teacher. Tell the teacher you are interested in knowing your child’s progress, work habits and behaviors throughout the year and not just during report card times. Will the teacher use a two-way communication weekly report, Class Dojo, Remind app, or can you contact them using their school email? If it is the school email, can you expect a response in 24 to 48 hours? If you would like a face-to-face meeting, would they be available before, or after, school? Build a partnership with your child’s teacher. Communication is the key!
2. Assessments, assessments and assessments. During the first month or two your child will be assessed in multiple ways. Find out what the tests measure and ask how these assessments or scores will be utilized in your child’s education. Encourage your child to do their best on each assessment. Remind them the assessments are showing the teacher where to begin instruction to meet their needs. If the assessments show your child is significantly behind or ahead of their peers, seek information from the school to intervene early.
3. Set routines. Routines set constructive habits for your child. Set a designated time and space for homework, dinner and snacks. Create a bedtime ritual of bath time, reading a printed book and removing or turning off all electronics so sleep can happen. It is documented that when a child has adequate sleep, their attention span increases. In addition, a good night’s sleep keeps the germs away. The National Sleep Foundation has suggested that children 5 to 12 years of age need 10 to 11 hours of sleep. Read more about sleep benefits.
4. Read at least 20 minutes every day (well at least most days). Connect with literature or books that are of interest to your child. Spend time reading to your child, listening to your child read, or both. You can read a page or a paragraph and then your child can read the next one. If you are not sure where to find good books, check with your child’s librarian or your community librarian for recommendations. Reading Rockets has a list of back-to-school books to get started. Also, tap in the interest of your child. Does your child play an organized sport? Find books on football, soccer or cheerleading. Did your child recently lose a tooth or are they interested in starting a business? Check out one of my new favorite books Tallulah: The Tooth Fairy CEO, by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli.
Michigan Department of Education has a list of eResources to support Early Literacy. These resources include read aloud and pronunciation features. Check out the free eResources to continue to grow your child’s brain.
5. Lift your child up with daily affirmations. Help your child create a positive mindset by including positive phrases in their daily life. For example, I am a capable student. I am uniquely gifted. I can make good decisions. Affirmations will counteract negative self-talk. Also, you and your child may consider writing your own affirmations to get your day or year started on the right track.
Dr. Ashelin Currie is an educational improvement consultant with Oakland Schools.