Teachers union president offers back-to-school tips for parents
As schools gear up for a new school year, CH Teachers Union President Ari Klein offers back-to-school tips for all parents:
The new school year always comes quicker than anyone anticipates. Before summer break slips by, there are small things that parents and guardians can do to help their children transition successfully back into a school routine.
For children entering a new school, as well as younger children, getting familiar with the school grounds and location can be very helpful in allaying some natural anxiety about going to school. If there is a playground on the school property, it might help younger children adjust to the school just by being on the grounds and taking some ownership through gaining a sense of familiarity.
Consider practicing the route to school with your children if they have to walk or take a bus. Don’t assume an older child will know how to get to school. Timing how long it takes to get to school will help you plan everything, from when to wake up in the morning and when to leave the house to get to school. Getting your child to school before the first bell will ensure that your child has time to get to a locker or classroom to prepare for the day. Most students need time to prepare mentally for learning.
Most schools make available a supply list and some prepare summer reading assignments. Find out if your school provides this kind of information, so you can be equipped early. Summer reading assignments for CH-UH public schools can be found at www.chuh.org/summerreadinglists.aspx. Students who come to school unprepared will have a tougher time catching up, and may make a poor first impression on a teacher. Even for students without a summer reading assignment, it is incredibly helpful to read over the summer. Students who do not read over the summer slip backward in their education. Our Heights libraries and librarians can help guide families to great choices that are appropriate for children of all ages and abilities.
I wish summer math was assigned as well, but there are opportunities for kids to solve practical problems around the house to keep up their basic skills, such as following a recipe or woodworking projects. Don’t discount video games that provide math practice and can be fun when it is raining outside.
At least one week before school starts, get out of the summer routines and re-establish school bedtime, waking and meal schedules. Setting alarms, eating breakfast, and starting the day will save a lot of trouble once school starts. Talk with your children about why it is important to be well-rested for learning and school work so they understand there is a reason and that it is not a punishment.
Look for information coming from your child’s school and read it carefully. Usually there are health forms, bell schedules, and important calendar events to record. Pay attention to changes in rules, notes about proper attire, bus schedules, and a host of other details that parents need. Hopefully your school offers volunteer opportunities for parents—volunteering is a great way to see how things work at school and get to know the staff.
Raising children who are ready to be successful for school takes work and planning. Two good sources of information are the National Association of School Psychologists (www.nasponline.org/families/index.aspx) and the Amercian Federation of Teachers tips for parents (www.aft.org/education/publications/resources-parents).
Ari Klein is a lifelong community member, math teacher at Cleveland Heights High School, and president of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union.