For Parents

Framing Your School Year for Success-Parent Edition

Getting ready for back to school can be tough. The more relaxed summer schedule needs to be replaced by the hustle and bustle of every-minute-is-busy mode. It’s a definite switch up that takes some getting used to. Add to that getting used to new teachers, schedules, and classmates, you’ll see that students have a lot going on.

My own family needs to make this switchover every year. We’ve learned over time that keeping home routines makes a big difference in how different it feels when summer ends. We’ve also learned that putting in some due diligence at different points in the year, allows the year to unfold as successfully as it can. We can’t control everything, but we can set it up well. Here are my suggestions for creating a frame that will help your student have a great school year:

Good class choices

In terms of preparing, it really starts in the spring with good class choices. Most students don’t have a ton of wiggle room for core subjects like math, literacy, science or social studies. They may have certain additional required classes like health, computers, or PE. But there are spots where there are options. In these spots, make sure choices fit their needs and skills. Those good fit classes.

If your child really struggles academically or behaviorally, work with your child’s case manager to craft a schedule that makes sense. Don’t just assume things will sort themselves out. Being proactive will ensure and that supports are in place for them to do their best.

Familiarize yourself with your child’s teachers and their expectations

Where we live, Back to School Nights are a way to meet teachers and learn routines. Often, teachers provide information about their grading policies or how and what they teach. These are good events to attend to learn more about how the teacher will operate. My girls are old enough that they can handle most of the issues that come up, but not always. These introductions allow me to know how to approach a situation if one arises.

Other districts may have other ways to engage parents. If you aren’t able to attend the events, don’t fret. And don’t feel bad that you couldn’t attend. Contact your child’s case manager and ask the questions you have or reach out directly to teachers for information.

Help your child get organized

Before school begins

Before you go out shopping, consider asking your child’s case manager about what supplies a student “really needs”. They may tell you to check the supply list, but they also may tell you what I’m telling you now. You won’t need as much of that list as you think. You know what your child is not going to use or what has worked for them in the past. Trust your gut. Regardless of the work system, most students feel better when they are ready. Give them time to organize materials, walk their schedule, and visit their locker. Even if they don’t decorate it or organize it much.

As the school year progresses

If students are doing well without you, let them go. If your child struggles, follow up every few weeks. Look at their work product at home or check-in with grades on whatever system your school uses. If you see things changing, talk with your child’s case manager.

Check-ins with your child’s case manager

Before school begins

Many case managers contact parents several weeks before school starts to introduce themselves and to schedule a transition meeting. This is a perfect opportunity to reach out with questions. Some even have availability those few days before school begins to meet and talk over pressing concerns. This would be a good time to request an appointment.

If you have a child that needs multiple visits to transition back, set these appointments up before school is done. That way teachers have those dates in their summer plans.

As the year progresses

Use that first interaction to be clear on things that are very important to you, whether it’s academic or behavior. Throughout the year, keep the communication going about things that matter to the success of your child. This way, small situations can be addressed before they become bigger issues. Use problem-solving strategies to work through issues. Whatever questions or concerns you have, from a case manager to a parent, please, bring them up!

Celebrate Successes

Getting through some school years is a challenge, but many more are filled with examples of progress. Despite the curvy road some students had to take to make it to the end, we made it! It’s important to recognize effort and improvement in whatever form that takes.

Have a wonderful school year!

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