Our kids’ school success actually begins at home, and even the simplest steps can mean a big difference for your child’s future.
EDUCATION TRENDS PARENTS NEED TO KNOW
With thousands of kids heading back to school starting as early as next week, California State PTA offers parents the top three trends in education during this back-to-school season.
- Family engagement leads to student success. Research shows that authentic family engagement is a key factor in long-term student success — including better student attendance, higher graduation rates and increased student achievement. Our recently enacted bill, Assembly Bill 2878 (2018), is a family engagement measure that uses research-based guidelines to define what authentic family engagement could look like in Education Code in order to guide schools, districts and county offices of education. Learn more about the bill and the importance of family engagement at www.capta.org/advocacy and www.capta.org/family-engagement.
- Safe children are better learners. We believe that every child is entitled to a safe and peaceful school environment that is orderly and empowering, in which students and staff are free to learn and teach without the threat of physical and psychological harm. When kids feel safe and secure, they can better focus on learning at school and in the home, and can achieve academic success. Learn more about the importance of safe school environments at toolkit.capta.org/safe-school-environments
- It starts with attendance. Children need to be in school to learn — it’s that simple. If children don’t show up for school every day, they miss out on developing fundamental skills. Data shows children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are far less likely to read proficiently at the end of third grade. Parents and families are essential partners in making sure students attend school, and play a key role in identifying the barriers to attendance as well as what motivates students to go to school. For more information on the importance of school attendance, check out the resources from Attendance Works.
TIPS FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL SEASON
When is comes to the first day of school, kids — and parents — may be excited and a bit nervous. Anxious feelings are normal and expected during times of transition or change. This is especially true for children and teens going back to school, or for first-timers starting kindergarten.
This transition can be stressful and disruptive for the entire family! Prior to the first day of school, your anxious child may cling, cry, have temper tantrums, have trouble sleeping, complain of headaches or stomach pains, withdraw and become sullen or irritable.
Here are some tips for helping ease the stress of a new school year and starting on a positive note:
- Re-assure your child. Listen to and acknowledge your child’s feelings and demonstrate confidence that they can handle the situation. Encourage your children to talk openly with you and with teachers about concerns or worries they may have
- Point out the positives. Starting a new school year can be fun. Your child will see old friends and meet new ones. The first week of school offers a chance to learn about new things and pursue interests. Reinforce the fun and excitement of learning with your child
- Prepare ahead and start a routine. Start preparing your child for the upcoming school year by establishing or getting into back-to-school routines a week or two before school starts. Have your child pick out the clothes he or she plans to wear to school the next day. Encourage everyone in the house to go to bed early and get up 15 to 30 minutes earlier so they’re not rushing around in the morning. Allow enough time for a good breakfast, and make arrangements for your child’s lunch. During the first week of school, find out if any additional materials are requested (pencils, folders, etc.) and remember that your school, local nonprofit groups and PTAs often can help with providing school supplies
- Encourage safe traveling to and from school. Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk or bike to school, or ride with on the bus. Briefly review the basics of safe walking and biking. If you feel it is appropriate, drive your child (or walk with him) to school and pick him up on the first day. Take a tour of the school before the school year starts so your child is familiar with where things are and how to find their way around
- Plan for special needs. If your child requires medication, treatment or has special needs, talk to the school administrative staff, then talk to your child about how those needs will be handled at school (what time to go to the office for medication or what foods in the cafeteria to avoid, etc.)
- Make your child feel comfortable. If your child tends to have trouble with new social situations, arrange for play-dates with some new classmates before school begins. For older children and teens, make sure your child attends any summer or before school orientations that will allow them to meet and get to know other students
- Prepare for emergency situations. What should your child do if you are late picking her up, or if no one is at the house when she arrives home? What should your child do if he feels picked on while at recess? Talking in advance with your child and having a plan will help minimize panic and stress.
Download, print and share this flier with your friends, PTA members and school community. (Available in English/Spanish double-sided.)
- “Back to School Anxiety” — Child Mind Institute
- “5 Tips to Ease Back-to-School Anxiety” — Johns Hopkins Medicine
- “Helping Your Child Cope with Back-to-School Anxiety” — Anxiety BC
- “School Anxiety” — Parents.com
EASY & EFFECTIVE WAYS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
In fact, there are a hundred easy but effective ways you can help your child succeed, but here are just a few:
- Set up daily routines, including healthy eating and sleeping habits
- Provide a place and time for homework
- Check on homework assignments and projects
- Show your support and interest by talking about school activities each day
- Promote literacy by reading to your child and by reading yourself
- Limit all types of screen time: TV, gaming and computers
- Express high expectations, standards and encouragement for your child’s learning
- Attend parent-teacher conferences, open houses and back-to-school events
- Participate in decisions affecting your child’s education
- Take advantage of your community’s many free or low-cost activities and resources, such as libraries, museums, theaters and zoos
- Participate in after-school clubs, sports and art activities
- Join PTA.
And family involvement doesn’t end with grade school: Staying connected with your child’s education remains critical in the middle and high-school years, too!
- Talk about and research college and career choices
- Stay involved with your PTA at all grade levels.
HOMEWORK’S IMPORTANT FOR AT-SCHOOL SUCCESS
Homework isn’t a needless exercise: Reasonable, quality assignments expand on topics and skills taught in the classroom and — in the big picture — help develop lifelong learning habits. So keeping on top of homework assignments is truly key to student success. Download our flier on homework tips or check out our homework webpage for additional resources.
TIPS FROM TEACHERS: HOW TO SUPPORT LEARNING AT HOME
While parents and caregivers are kids’ primary teachers, professional educators dedicate themselves to our children’s school-age and future success. Just as teachers and families join forces to improve kids’ education, California State PTA and the California Teachers Association joined together to create seven tips to make the most of your child’s educational opportunities.
OUR CHILDREN ARE PART OF OUR COMMUNITIES
Kids are part of a home community, a school community – and our neighborhoods, state and nation. Issues impacting broader communities – like health or economic concerns – impact children of all ages where they live and learn as well. Find out how you can make a difference on these community issues to help our children and youth.