Back-to-School Tips for Parents

The beginning of the new school year is less than two weeks away for my two teenagers. As a parent, I have mixed feelings about them going back to school. Half of me is looking forward to those 5-6 hours in the middle of the day that the house will be quiet, the other half of me is already missing their constant presence. Because my children are teenagers, I realize that it is only a matter of time until they graduate high school and will be on their own. This realization motivates me to want to make the most of every minute I have left with them. When the day comes that they leave for college, my influence on their day-to-day activities will be greatly diminished, as it should be, but I do want to do all I can now so they form good habits that will hopefully stick with them when they are on their own.

I have put together the following tips for myself, and I share them with you, for these last few days before school starts.

Tip #1: If your son or daughter has not read a book this summer, take them to the library NOW! It was about two weeks into the summer that I learned from a Facebook post from another parent that my son had a required summer reading list. It took some investigating on my part, but I eventually found the list and drove him to the public library to check out some of the books on the list. Even if your son or daughter does not have a required reading list, it is good for students to get back in the habit of reading regularly. With two weeks left, there is still time to finish a book.

Tip #2: Review multiplication facts. Which facts you review will depend upon the grade of your student, but ALL students need to be able to recall some math facts. There is no reason a student taking AP Calculus should be using their calculator for 7 X 8! Do not let your son or daughter tell you that they don’t need to know their multiplication facts because they can use a calculator. There are numerous free apps available that your kids can download on their phone if they are having trouble with their multiplication facts.  If your child knows their multiplication facts up to 12 without any problem, have them use mental math to multiply two-digit numbers by one-digit numbers in their head, or have them recite their base 2 numbers. The quicker they are with some basic math facts, the easier it will be to follow along with math lectures.

Tip #3: Make sure you know the username and password for your student’s online grade book. If you are not able to log on to check on your student’s progress you want to take care of this during registration. Check to see if your child’s school has an email notification system so that you are notified by email when a teacher updates your student’s grades. Start from the first week of school and make it part of your routine to check progress in your child’s class or classes.

Tip #4: Have a planner and start structuring your time now. Once school starts you will have to consider your students’ activities, clubs, parent meetings, tutoring, music lessons, and so forth. Start looking at your schedule for August to December now and anticipate how that time will need to be divided up. There are only 24 hours in a day and it is the activities that we are not planning for that get left out.

Tip #5: As you have your calendar out, make time to visit your students’ school on a regular basis.  Waiting in a car loop does not count as visiting your student’s school on a regular basis. By this I mean you must get out of the car and check into the front office. You do not have to wait until Parent Conferences or an Open House to visit your child’s school. Make sure the people at your child’s school know who you are and that you support their efforts in helping to educate your child.  You can do this by volunteering at the school, being a member of the Student Advisory Counsel, Parent Teacher Association, or just writing a note to your child’s teachers and counselors thanking them for their effort and dropping the letters off at the front office. I have even been known to deliver mini pies on Pi Day for the entire staff.  It is not too expensive and a little appreciation goes a long way.

I hope that you have had a wonderful summer and that you take every opportunity to enjoy the time you have with your kids!

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