Here are 10 easy steps that any family could follow to start the school year off on the right foot.
In the months of January and February, with a little preparation and a little thought, every family can start the school year off on a positive note.
Every one of us wants the school year to be successful for our children–and us–so here’s a few simple ‘tricks of the trade’ coming from not only a parent of two, now university students but also an educator who has been ‘on the other side’.
Here it goes;
Make early and frequent contact with your child’s teachers.
Don’t be afraid to send an email if you have a question or concern, or just send a note to say ‘hi’ and introduce yourself. Ask how you can support classroom learning at home. Teachers at Drouin Secondary use email to contact parents frequently so make sure the school has your email address. When teachers do email you information a quick reply is always appreciated. Even it is just “Thanks for the information.” We sometimes wonder if anyone is reading.
Become familiar with Sentral and Moodle.
Make sure you are able to access Sentral which is our administration package. Sentral contains all the day to day information about your child’s education. Things like attendance, timetable, excursions, important dates, reports and other records are all available on Sentral. The school work your child should be submitting is on Moodle. We recommend the POCS method of accessing Moodle. POCS = Parent over child’s shoulder. Check in regularly to see that all work is being submitted.
For our new Year 7 parents you will get your Sentral details early in Week 2. We will also run an information night if you want more help.
Eat at least two dinners together each week.
It’s hard. Verrrry hard, I know, with sports practices, lessons, and late work days. But sitting down to dinner as a family has been proven to lead to healthier kids, happier families, and stronger family relationships.
It’s a great time to talk about the day, make sure your kids are chewing with their mouths closed (literally!), and to actually sit down and look at your children before they run off and turn into 20-year-olds tomorrow night. And the meal? Doesn’t have to be fancy. Just has to be something on the table that you eat together.
Have a rule that anyone who uses their phone at the dinner table has to do the dishes. This will encourage some non-screen time, something we all need more of.
Make a home for everything.
When your child walks in the door, shoes make a beeline for the shoe shelf, lunchbox gets emptied then heads to its place on the bench, the computer goes on the charger, backpack drops in the box. No questions asked.
Then when you get a second, check tomorrow’s timetable which you should have on the fridge. Do they need a PE uniform or other special equipment?
Move onto the next thing.
Create a structured time and place for homework.
For some, it works to get homework completed immediately after walking in the door and finishing snack; for others, homework’s best saved for after dinner. It doesn’t matter when you choose–just make a choice and stick with it. Everyone fares better with routine, so start one for homework asap. Your child will have homework. If they don’t then they should read a book. Not on their computer, IPad or Phone.
Read a book for 30 minutes with no distraction from electronic devices of any sort.
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Ask your child questions and listen to the answers.
Yes: Hi. Happy to see you! What did you do in P.E. today? OR What book did you read in English Today? OR What was your favourite part of your lunch? OR What are you learning about in Science at the moment?
No: Hi. Did you have a good day?
Shoot for specific, open-ended questions and go with whatever he wants to talk about. Close-ended questions (that result in a yes or no answer) stop the conversation before it begins. And rapid-fire questions about what you want to know but what he’s not ready to share are enough to make a kid want to turn around and run back to the bus for safety.
Get your kids involved in at least one extra-curricular activity.
Even if it’s one little thing that gives them a chance to interact with other kids and burn some steam, it counts. Drouin offers tonnes of extracurricular activities, Drama, Chess, Music, Debating, Sport of all sorts, Human Powered Vehicles. Encourage them to apply for a leadership role. There are even some extra curricula overseas trips that students can get involved in.
Get your kids books, computers and uniform organised early.
Every student at DSC needs to be in full school uniform every day. They need the required textbooks for their subjects. They need a fully charged laptop and books to write in and pens to write with. Yes, we still write with pens. Getting these organised early before the first week back makes life so much easier for students. If you are struggling financially contact the school and we may be able to help you out.
Be thankful. Be supportive. Be grateful.
Teachers’ jobs are seriously more challenging than most people can imagine. The amount of work that they do–during the week and on the weekends–to prepare lessons, ready their classroom, research best practices, work with specialists, grade schoolwork, respond to parents, attend meetings, and (for many) continue their own education–is insane.
So we need to be thankful for their hard work–today and every day–not just at the end of the year.
Sign your emails with a sincere, ‘thank you for all you do‘ and mean it. Ask what you can do to support them, and follow through.
Say ‘thanks’ to the administration, the education support staff, the cleaners, and the canteen workers because they’re all working towards creating a safe environment for your child to meet with success and have the best year possible. So why wouldn’t you want to be thankful for, supportive of, and grateful for this school community?
And there you have it; just 10 quick ways that you can start the school year off on the right foot. By the end of Feb, we hope you have ticked off all 10.
By Rob Monk with lots of help from teachmama.com.