Back to School 2014

As the summer winds down, it’s time for parents and students to begin the transition back into school mode. The first day of classes in Pickens County is set for Aug. 19, but getting a head start on school year preparation is a key to success.

How to help kids transition back to the classroom

As a new school year draws nearer, parents can employ several strategies to help their kids readjust to the rigors of the classroom.

As a new school year draws nearer, parents can employ several strategies to help their kids readjust to the rigors of the classroom.

The dawn of a new school year is an exciting time. Kids may not want to say goodbye to days spent lounging by the pool, but such disappointment is often tempered by the prospect of returning to school with friends.

For parents, getting kids ready for a new school year is about more than updating their wardrobe or organizing carpools with fellow parents. Reacclimating kids to the routine of school after a relaxing summer is a significant undertaking, and the following are a handful of ways for parents to get a head start as the school year draws closer.

• Establish a routine over the last few weeks of summer. Summer vacations typically lack the structure of the school year, and that lack of structure can help kids unwind and make the most of the freedom that summer vacation provides. But as summer starts to wind down, parents can begin to reintroduce some structure into their kids’ lives to make the transition back to school go more smoothly. Plan morning activities so kids can readjust to waking up early each day. In addition, serve breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time you typically serve it during the school year so kids’ bodies can begin to readjust as well.

• Take kids along when shopping for school supplies. If you plan to buy your child a new computer or other supplies for the upcoming school year, take him or her along on your shopping trips. Kids who get to choose their supplies might be more excited about returning to school than those youngsters who are given what they need without offering their input.

• Monitor or assign summer reading. Many students are given summer reading lists to keep their minds sharp over the summer and prepare them for upcoming coursework. Parents should monitor kids’ progress on such reading lists and even discuss the books with their kids when possible. Read the books along with them if you think it will help engage them. If kids were not assigned summer reading lists at the end of the school year, assign your own books, rewarding kids when they finish a new book. Kids who read throughout the summer may be more likely to start the school year off on the right foot than those who don’t crack a book all summer.

• Encourage kids to sign up for extracurricular activities. Many school-aged athletes get a head start on the new school year by trying out for sports teams. Such tryouts often commence a week or two before a school year is scheduled to begin, and this can help kids ease their way back into the school year. But even nonathletes can begin pursuing extracurricular activities before the first school bell of the year rings. Theater programs may begin auditions or encourage interested youngsters to attend orientation meetings before the dawn of the school year, and such sessions can be a great and pressure-free way for kids to ready themselves for a new school year.

The arrival of a new school year can be both exciting and daunting. But parents can help their youngsters readjust to school in various ways after a relaxing summer.

Good study habits begin in the home


It times, it can seem like your child’s homework is endless and with all those other things to get done, helping your child complete this homework can seem like an impossible task. However, completing homework is an important part of your child’s education; it not only helps children practice what they are learning in the classroom, but it also encourages self-discipline and a sense of responsibility.

Here are some tips for helping your child:

• Take an interest in your child’s homework. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement regarding a child’s increased success in school when parents take an active interest in homework. Your interest sends the message that not only is education important to you, but also that your child’s activities in general are important to you, and you are there to support your child.

• How much is too much? According to the U.S. Department of Education, children in first through third grade should not have more than about 20 minutes of homework each school day. The recommendation for children in fourth through sixth grades is about 20 to 40 minutes a school day, and for children in seventh through ninth grades the recommendation is up to 2 hours per school day. These are just recommendations and the amount of homework your child will have may vary greatly depending on the school and your child’s teacher(s). The best way to know how much homework to expect is to speak with your child’s teacher.

• Get to know your child’s teacher. Attend parent-teacher conferences and ask the teacher about the homework policy and what your role should be in helping with your child’s homework as this may vary from teacher to teacher. Building this relationship with the teacher initially will be helpful if you have any questions or concerns throughout the school year about your child’s homework situation.

• Schedule in homework time. Although it can be difficult with your own and your child’s busy schedules, make sure homework time is part of your child’s daily routine. Try and find a regular study time each day that works the best for your child. By doing this, you are modeling good time management as well as sending the message that education is important.

• Find a homework-friendly area at home. This may differ depending on the age of your child or what type of homework he is doing. Ideally, this should be a relatively quiet place with plenty of light. In addition, help your child gather the necessary tools to complete his homework before he begins.

• Be available. How much you help your child with homework will depend on your child’s age, her teacher, and the assignment. Hovering over your child as she completes her homework may be distracting. However, assuring her that you are there if she needs you will let her know that you are there to support her.

• Encourage learning. Even when your child has free time, he can learn from his activities. Reading for pleasure, participating in an after school activity, visiting a museum, helping you with cooking or errands, or even watching an educational program on television are all things that help your child to learn outside the classroom and develop hobbies and interests.

Keys to building a strong

parent-teacher relationship

Once a school year begins, many students spend more time in the classroom with their teachers than they do at home with their parents. That’s especially true in dual-income households where both parents work outside of the home.

Though many parents would love to spend more time with their children, doing so can be difficult when both parents must go to work every day. Because kids spend so much time with their teachers, it’s important for parents to work toward building a strong parent-teacher relationship. Such a relationship fosters communication, which can help a young student do his or her best in and out of the classroom, something that’s a goal for parents and teachers alike. Parents interested in developing a strong relationship with their kids’ teachers can take several steps to make that happen.

• Meet your child’s teacher at the beginning of the year. Teachers have many students come in and out of their classroom on any given day, so it can be hard for teachers to initiate a relationship with parents. Parents have significantly fewer children to look after, so they should take the first step toward building a relationship with teachers. Introduce yourself at the onset of the school year, providing phone numbers and e-mail addresses where you can be reached. Let the teacher know you’re available for discussion any time during the school year and that you look forward to the coming school year and working with the teacher as the year progresses.

• Attend “Back to School Night.” School events like an open house or a “Back to School Night” are a great way to help kids grow acclimated to their school. But such events also make great opportunities for parents to learn more about their kids’ teachers than they might have learned during their introductory meeting. Such events may allow teachers to explain the curriculum for the upcoming year, and teachers may feel encouraged when parents show an active interest in such events.

• Prioritize parent-teacher conferences. Parent-teacher conferences are a great opportunity for parents to speak to their children’s teacher one-on-one. Unlike an introductory meeting or an open house at the beginning of the school year, a parent-teacher conference allows parents and teachers to specifically discuss students in private. Teachers may provide insight into how a child is performing and behaving in the classroom, offering advice as to how to improve that performance or suggestions as to how to encourage kids to keep up the good work. Such conferences may be your only opportunity for a one-on-one, in-person discussion about your child, so make sure you’re on time and that you don’t miss these conferences. Your child’s teacher will appreciate it, and you can use this as an opportunity to ask any questions you have about your child.

• Keep the channels of communication open. If it’s been awhile since you’ve spoken to your child’s teacher, don’t be afraid to e-mail the teacher to check in or see if you can lend a helping hand. In addition, if your child really enjoys a teacher’s class, don’t be hesitant to share that with the teacher. Teachers appreciate compliments just like other professionals, and parents should express their gratitude to those teachers who are working hard to make learning fun for their youngsters.

Establishing a strong relationship with a child’s teacher can help parents ensure students are making the most of their time in the classroom.