See You In September: Educators Provide Back-To-School Tips For Children
Teachers and school counselors of various experience levels share their advice for getting your child back-to-school ready.
August 30, 2022 at 2:19 pm
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change what back to school looks like, it’s time for children across America to return. While many children went back to in-person learning last fall, getting them ready for a new school year can still feel a little different this time.
Blavity talked to several educators and school counselors of various experience levels to find out just what you should look to do this year to get your children ready for educational success. The bonus is you can work on these things even if your child has already started their school year.
Mrs. Turner-Williams says to be positive
LaDonna Turner-Williams, a 17th-year teacher with both primary and secondary education in inner city and rural schools, offers strong guidance for positivity and cooperation.
“Make sure you are reading with them every night — newspapers, books, magazines, comics, recipes,” she said. “Take electronics away during the school week and add in some educational materials and activities.”
She suggests having a strict afterschool schedule to help children get enough sleep so they can best be ready for the next day.
Communication is also key for Turner-Williams.
“Approach the teacher when you have concerns,” she said. “Remember, you and the teacher are a team. Always be willing to listen and collaborate. Never talk negatively about teachers and staff in front of your child — it never ends well for your kid.”
A part of communication is also giving your children positive affirmations and paying attention to them.
“Put positive affirmations in their lunch boxes or on top of their folder,” Turner-Williams said. “Review graded work and ensure you are paying attention to what they are struggling with and give them extra practice at home. Hug them and let them know that they are capable and loved.”
There will be homework, but this shouldn’t stress anybody out, she said.
“Homework time should never be a crying fest,” Turner-Williams said. “Place calming and encouraging posters in the homework area, add a rug and pretty lamps. Make the space special and make homework time a fun, family activity. No TV in the homework area.”
And at the end of the day, engage with your children beyond a simple, “how was your day?”
“Ask them about their day, things like, ‘what was a highlight of your day? Give me two examples of kindness that you witnessed today. If you had an eraser, what part of your day would you erase away and why? Who did you sit with at lunch today? Tell me something new you learned about them today. If I was a fly on the wall what part of your day would you hope I saw? How were you a good friend today? What was difficult about school today?'”
And, finally, she said, set goals with your children to allow them to be part of their successful school year planning.
Ms. Jackson wants you to read more
DeJunne’ Clark Jackson has 14 years of experience in education from being a primary school teacher to being a school counselor. She’s also a college disabilities coordinator and an academic language therapist among other related certifications. As a literary advocate, her advice is simple.
“Read and engage books with intention,” Jackson said. “Literacy instruction, both in the classroom and at home, should be explicit and direct.”
Ms. Marks says that you should swallow your pride
Darlynn Marks, a distance learning paraprofessional and mother of two, wants parents to allow their children to be tested for learning disabilities.
“Swallow your pride and get your babies tested for dyslexia,” Marks said. “Dyslexia isn’t a disease. Advocate for your child. Help teachers teach them where they are.”
Ms. Martin wants you to affirm your children
Reagan Martin, a high school teacher with two teenagers of her own, wants parents to address stress and anxiety.
“Talk to your kiddos about stress and anxiety, and affirm that if they start feeling overwhelmed throughout the school year they have a safe space with you,” she said.
Mrs. Dawson says parents should be patient and proactive
Britt Ashley Dawson, a mother of two and an eighth-year classroom teacher experienced in K-12 performing arts, reminds parents to be patient with themselves.
“Start easing in earlier bedtimes,” she said. “Be patient with yourself and your children as you adjust to the routine.”
Dawson also suggests communicating with your child’s teacher.
“Ask your child’s teacher if there’s something additional they need because they do,” she said.
And as for school supplies, Dawson encourages parents to shop sales all year.
“Buy basic school supplies when you see them on sale during the year,” she said.
Ms. Bell says pay attention to the big feelings
Educational consultant Courtney Bell has eight years of teaching and secondary education instructional coaching experience, which also includes three years as a high school principal. She wants parents to pay attention to the big feelings children will experience due to school.
“Teach them breathing exercises and body regulation when they might be feeling overwhelmed or frustrated,” Bell said. “Saying things like, ‘be good at school’ can make them feel defeated if they have big feelings while there. Acknowledging that school can make them feel a lot of different ways and teaching them what to do can make it easier for them and the teacher.”
Bell also connects stress to the immune system. For this reason, she suggests vitamins.
“Start removing processed foods, if possible, and incorporate a kid’s multivitamin and some additional zinc and vitamin C,” Bell said. “New environments and routines put a lot of stress on the body and immune system, so if you can give your kiddo a head start, you will hopefully avoid a cold, or in today’s environment, worse. Within the first 60 days, those extra B vitamins also help with their mood and anxiety during the back-to-school transition.”
Dr. Knight wants parents to lower their expectations, twice if necessary
Alicia Knight, a licensed child psychologist who has worked in public education for 13 years and has two children of her own, said that parents should lower their expectations for the first few weeks of school.
“Anticipate restraint collapse and lower expectations the first few weeks of school and then lower them again,” Dr. Knight said. “Easier routines, less schedules and more connection. Keep it super simple as the year starts.”
She also said that parents should remember that while new things can be exciting, they can be simultaneously scary.
“Engage in conversations about anticipating the year and allow them to process, slowly and over time, what the new year might bring and/or look like. In particular, if there is a big change to kinder, middle or high school,” Dr. Knight said.
Whether you’re a veteran parent or if this is your first year sending a child to school, all parents and guardians can benefit from proper communication, preparation and positivity. Happy new school year!