Back to school survival guide

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DODEA Director, Marilee Fitzgerald asks Ms. Melinda Draper’s class, Zama American Photo courtesy of Department of Defense Education Activity, Pacific
DODEA Director, Marilee Fitzgerald asks Ms. Melinda Draper’s class, Zama American Photo courtesy of Department of Defense Education Activity, Pacific

Back to school survival guide

by: Elaine Wilson | .
American Forces Press Service | .
published: August 20, 2013

I’ve learned a lot from a recent move that was the fourth for my children. While preparation and organization are vital for a successful first week of school, communication has become No. 1 on my priority list.

I’ve made it a priority to sit down one-on-one with my children to discuss their feelings and concerns. I let them pour out their hearts and then gently steer them toward thinking positive when they start delving too far into the negative.

And I continue to do so until they’re firmly entrenched into their new school. It’s the least I can do after their fourth move in six years.

This move reminded me yet again of how tough adjustments can be, and given me an even deeper appreciation for military families who tackle these issues every couple of years or so. Moving isn’t easy, particularly when compounded with adjustments to new schools.

I wanted to share some tips I found to help parents successfully navigate the first week of school, courtesy of the National Association of School Psychologists website. Many of these tips will prove helpful, not only on the first week of school, but year-round.

Back-to-school tips for parents:

  • Clear your schedule. If possible, postpone business trips, volunteer meetings and extra projects. You want to be free to help your child acclimate to the school routine and overcome the confusion or anxiety that many children experience at the start of a new school year.
  • Make lunches the night before school. Older children should help or make  their own. Give them the option to buy lunch in school if they prefer and finances permit.
  • Set alarm clocks. Have school-age children set their own alarm clocks to get up in the morning. Praise them for prompt response to morning schedules and bus pickups.
  • Leave plenty of extra time. Make sure your child has plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast and get to school. For very young children taking the bus, pin to their shirt or backpack an index card with pertinent information, including their teacher’s name and bus number, as well as your daytime contact information.
  • After school. Review with your children what to do if they get home after school and you’re not there. Be very specific, particularly with young children. Put a note card in their backpack with the name(s) and number(s) of a neighbor who is home during the day as well as a number where you can be reached.
  • Review your child’s schoolbooks. Talk about what your child will be learning during the year. Share your enthusiasm for the subjects and your confidence in your child’s ability to master the content. Learning skills take time and repetition. Encourage your child to be patient, attentive and positive.
  • Send a brief note to your child’s teacher. Let the teachers know that you’re interested in getting regular feedback on how and what your child is doing in school. Be sure to attend back-to-school night and introduce yourself to the teachers. Convey a sincere desire to be a partner with your children’s teachers to enhance their learning experience.
  • Familiarize yourself with the other school professionals. Make an effort to find out who it is in the school or district that can be a resource for you and your child. This can include the principal and front office personnel; school psychologist, counselor and social worker; the reading specialist, speech therapist and school nurse; and the after-school activities coordinator.

Read more on our Education section and be ready for the new school year!