A Great Beginning

The story of your child's school year is about to unfold. A strong opening chapter will help to set the tone for a great year. Try these strategies.

Introduce the Characters

Your youngster's teacher will play an important role in his life this year. Write her a short note, and attach a picture of your family. You might mention your child's hobbies, favorite school subjects, and family members' names. Also, find out how the teacher prefers to be contacted. Getting to know each other now will help you work together in future "chapters."

Get to Know the Setting

Invite your youngster to tell you about his classroom, the library, and other places at school. What decorations hang on the walls? What books or games are on the shelves? When possible, see for yourself by going to events like book fairs and math nights. Idea: Encourage him to draw you a picture of his classroom to hang on the refrigerator.

Enjoy the Plot

Attend back-to-school night to find out what your child will learn this year. Then, plan family outings or activities related to the topics. If he'll study your state's history, you could visit historic sites. Or if there's a plant unit, let him help you work in the garden or plant seeds in pots.


 Routines that Stick

Little habits make a big difference in the kind of day you and your youngster have. Here are things each of you could do to create routines for smooth days.

Your child can: Make a picture chart of what she need to do every morning, afternoon, and evening. She might draw a backpack as a reminder to show you papers she brings home. A picture of a violin could prompt her to practice her instrument.  

You can: Have her go to bed in time to get 9-11 hours of sleep and to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. Set aside downtime after a busy day (perhaps 20 minutes when she gets home) so she'll be recharged for homework, chores, and family time. 


Attendance Adds Up!

Students who attend school regularly tend to have better attitudes toward school--and they're more likely to read at grade level. Try to schedule your child's doctor and dentist appointments outside of school hours. Also, be sure to create a backup plan for getting her to school if she misses the bus or you can't drive her.


The Importance of Integrity

What would your youngster say if a classmate asked him to cheat? Talk to him about how to respond if he's pressured to share answers or let others copy his work. For example, he could say, "Let's study together so we both do well," or "I don't want to risk getting a zero."


Did You Know?

The average child with a parent in the military moves every two to three years. Encourage your youngster to introduce herself to all new students. If you're a military family, contact your school liaison officer and the school counselor about programs available to help your child adjust.


Strengthen Social Skills

School is more pleasant for everyone when children share classroom materials and compromise to solve problems. Consider this advice for improving your youngster's social skills so she learns to get along with others now and later.

Practice Sharing: Do activities with your child that require sharing. For example, color together, and let her practice asking for the purple or the green crayon nicely. She could say, "May I use that when you're done?". And you might reply, "Sure, I'll give it to you as soon as I finish coloring this dragon."

Learn to Compromise: Your youngster and her classmates may disagree on how to approach a group project or a science experiment. Help her to prepare by looking for ways to find middle ground at home. Say she and a sibling argue over what book they'd like you to read at bedtime. They could take turns choosing a story every other night or ask you to read one chapter from each book. If they can't compromise, offer a suggestion like reading a book you child.



Elementary School