🙂Parents! For your consideration as we start the new school year!📚🎒

By John Monfredo, retired Worcester Public Schools teacher and principal and former WSC member

It’s back to school! Downtown Spencer, this morning: mom and son Yohan wait for the bus. photos: Rose T.

Yes, it’s back to school time! It’s time for parents to motivate their children to make the switch from vacation to school time.

Parents are the key to a successful school year!

Remember, research continues to say that no matter what the parents’ income or background was, students with involved parents continue to earn higher grades, enroll in higher level programs, attend school regularly, show improved behavior and successfully graduate and go on to higher education.

As a former teacher and principal, I can attest to that statement, for I have seen it happen. Parents can make a huge difference by encouraging their children to talk about their school day and listen to their thoughts about their school.

Remember, talking to your children about school sends a message that you value their education, and the discussions provide an opportunity for children to use the language they are learning in school.

Listen, I know firsthand that parenting is a difficult job, but it’s a rewarding job, too! So let’s look at some common sense approaches you can follow as you start the new school year with your children:

First, set up priorities such as bedtime for sleep is the center of a healthy lifestyle, and it will get your child off to a good start at school.

According to research, parents need to keep a bedtime routine during school time. An idea: an hour before bedtime put away all electronic devices and help children wind down. Use that last hour for reading before turning off the lights.

Staying with wellness, it is also important that your child eats a healthy diet. Remember, wellness and academics go hand in hand. Eating fruits and vegetables and getting in the proper amount of physical exercise is essential.

Moving on to reinforcement of learning:

Parents need to develop good management skills at home such as homework time, helping kids with their backpacks before turning in and placing their backpacks near the outside door.

Another management skill for parents: retrieve backpacks as soon as children come home and get those papers out! Sign those permission slips and add appointments on to the family calendar.

ROUTINES can be a powerful force in keeping everyone on the same page. Consider a checklist for the simple tasks of who gets to use the bathroom first and what’s for breakfast, if your child eats breakfast at home. Also, set the rules for cell phone use, computers and watching television during the school week.

Moving on to homework … Please consider these strategies:

As stated, make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework. Try to avoid having your child do homework with the television on or in places with other distractions.
Make sure the materials your child needs, such as paper and pencils are available.

Ask your child if special materials will be needed for some projects and get them in advance.
Help your child with time management.

Lilac! You can’t go to school with Yohan!

Establish a set time each day for doing homework. Don’t let your child leave homework until just before bedtime. Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together with classmates.

Be positive about homework.
Tell your child how important school is. The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires.
When your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers.
Giving answers means your child will not learn the material. Too much help teaches your child that when the going gets rough, someone will do the work for him or her.
Stay informed.

Talk with your child’s teacher. Make sure you know the purpose of homework and what your child’s class rules are.
Help your child figure out what is hard homework and what is easy homework.

Have your child do the hard work first. This will mean he will be most alert when facing the biggest challenges. Easy material will seem to go fast when fatigue begins to set in.

Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration.
Let your child take a short break if she is having trouble keeping her mind on an assignment.
Reward progress in homework.
If your child has been successful in homework completion and is working hard, celebrate that success with a special event (e.g., pizza, a walk, a trip to the park) to reinforce the positive effort.

In addition, parents also need to make every effort to meet their child’s teacher early in the school year. Teachers are always very excited about meeting their new students and the new parents. It is always best to make an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher to introduce yourself and let them know you are there to support your child’s learning!

Taking time to meet and introduce yourself and your child to the school principal is also a way to let your child know other adults at the school are there to help them. These are especially good ideas to use if your child has special needs or if the family may be going through difficult times such as divorce, an illness or death of a family member, or a recent or pending move.

Another idea worth mentioning is … DO JOIN THE SCHOOL’S PARENT GROUP! You want to be informed!

These are just a handful of ideas that I would share with my parents when I was a teacher and principal. Try them out!

Best wishes for a great school year, and should you need any help/advice feel free to contact me at monfredoj@gmail.com.

Let’s all remember that “school is a building which has four walls with tomorrow inside.” Remember, parents, you are essential to your child’s success! Stay positive and never give up!