Tag Archives: a new school year

THE WPS SCHOOL YEAR BEGINS – PARENTS, GET INVOLVED!

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Future music major! pic:R.T.

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee

As summer vacation comes to a close, I hope that our students have engaged in learning activities throughout the summer, especially reading on a daily basis. As school begins, many parents have huge smiles on their face – others become very apprehensive.

As a former school principal (Belmont Community), let me remind everyone that not all teachers are parents, but all parents are teachers. Parents are children’s first and most influential teachers, and all school systems must do more to involve parents in the learning process. Research has clearly shown that there is a critical link between parent involvement and student achievement.

Schools need to give more than “lip service” to involve parents in the learning process. Parents need to approach their child’s school and let staff know that they are interested in being involved! Parents, STAY INVOLVED!!

Let’s see what I can do to take away some of the stress of going back to school! First, it’s important that parents right now set up a bedtime schedule, for sleep is at the center of a healthy child and enables them to do well in school. According to research, it’s essential that parents keep a bedtime routine, especially during school time. Research suggests an hour before bedtime – put away all electronic devises to help kids wind down. Use that time for reading to them, or give them the opportunity to read for 30 minutes in bed.

Parents need to develop good management practices at home for their children such as homework time and packing their backpacks before turning in and placing them at the outside door. Speaking of backpacks, parents need to retrieve them as soon as their children come home and get those papers out … sign permission slips and add school appointments to the family calendar. Routines can be a potent force in keeping everyone on the same track. Consider a checklist for the simple tasks of who gets to use the bathroom first and what’s for breakfast. What you need to do is be organized – doing so takes the stress out of the day.

Let your child know that school is a number one priority for him. Do it by word of mouth and be setting up realistic schedules, such as for homework. Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework. 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, pencils and a dictionary, 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.
Establish a set time each day for doing homework. Most important – 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.

Reading time at home…make reading for 20 minutes a day – a part of your child’s routine.

Show your child that the skills they are learning are related to things you do as an adult. If your child is reading, you read, too. Parents, your child was born to be a reader and a writer. Someone has to show them the way and that person is YOU! It is your job to help your child enjoy reading or to be motivated to read.

Every day is a learning moment. Here are some fun activities to do with your child:

Many children’s movies and television shows are based upon stories and books. Encourage your child to read books based on the story or television show. This is a good way to get adolescents and reluctant readers involved in reading books.

There are many wonderful children’s magazines available. Get a magazine subscription as gift, and this could stimulate your child’s interest in reading.

Encourage your child to write letters to friends, relatives – or even to Worcester School Committee members! (We love hearing from students!) Your child could also send a letter via e-mail to a friend or relative.

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 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 him/her. These are especially good ideas to use if your child has special needs or if the family is going through difficult times, such as divorce, an illness, death of a family member, or a recent or pending move.

Other ideas for parents/guardians:

· Learn everything you can about your child’s school

· Review the school’s handbook and the school district’s web site

· Contact the teacher immediately if your child doesn’t understand an assignment or if you notice a change in your child’s behavior or school performance.

Worth mentioning: participate in parent meetings and conferences and special events at the school. Do join the school’s Parent Organization.

Best wishes for a great school year!

Should you need any advice, please feel free to contact me at monfredoj@gmail.com.

A Great School Year for All!

By Edith Morgan

September is here! That means shorter days in the sun, leaves starting to turn, tomatoes ripening, and all the preparations for fall that nature and man engage in around here. And many parents welcome September with a sigh of relief as their offspring head back to school.

So this is a good time to examine some of our favorite assumptions about education:

1. For many years we have been assuming that you need “self-esteem” to achieve or succeed. In my time, we had to achieve first, then we would acquire “self esteem,” as a result of having done something or achieved something worthy of recognition. It has been my experience that those who strive the hardest often feel they are NOT doing well enough and feel they are not meeting their own high goals.  It has also been my experience that when asked how they had done on a test, the lower achievers were smugly confident, while those who achieved near-perfect scores felt they should have done better. Too often, gang leaders exhibit enormous self-satisfaction, while real achievers (inventors, artists, writers, and other successful and hardworking persons) are beset with doubts, continually work to reach higher goals. So, there is an inverse relationship between self- esteem and real achievement.

2. Paper and pencil tests created by commercial concerns are believed to give us legitimate information about the level of skill or the amount of knowledge our children have.  But by their very nature, they are extremely limited in what they can test, and in HOW they test it.

The ubiquitous SAT, originally designed to predict success in the first year of college,  never did it as well as each student’s high school transcript. Which source of information do YOU think would be most reliable in finding out what a given student will do: a one-shot, multiple choice set of questions of esoteric vocabulary, or the cumulative record of student’s life day to day, as recorded by attendance (being there to learn), classes taken and passed, teacher comments and recommendations, extra-curricular activities, etc.

Why are we so taken with a spurious number, and why do we ignore the testimony  of professionals and the exact numbers represented by school records?

3. I went to elementary school for six years in France: even at the height of the Nazi invasion, there was no real interruption in my education. From Paris to LePuy in south-central France, there was continuity in my basic learning because, as in all modern Western nations (except the U.S.), there is a set of national curriculum standards, and from the poorest to the richest child are exposed to those basic learnings. Each teacher and each section  of the country adds whatever is needed (for example, in LePuy we also learned lace-making in school, as that was a major skill handed down there).

In America, we have to reinvent the wheel not only in 50 states, but often also in hundreds of cities and towns  – leading to a very uneven and hard to share result.

4.  The overwhelming majority of our students live in urban environments; so why are we still following the old farming calendar, making sure our kids are home to help bring in the crops?

We waste great amounts of time reviewing what they have forgotten in the long summer, giving us  so much less time to learn this year’s stuff. Surely there is a better, more efficient, less boring way to  do this?

5.  The power structure is upside down: those who must assume the most responsibility for the education of our children, the teachers, are nearly powerless.

Does that make any sense?

Clearly, we have much to think about, as we elect another school committee, and begin the school year again.