Be the change, new year, parents, reflection

Parents: Help Your Child Get Excited for Back to School

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I have been thinking a lot about back to school.  This break for me will have lasted over 3 weeks by the time I get back and so I wonder what I am stepping back into.  As anyone who has ever had a longish break knows, often the kids are hard to get motivated again.  I blogged about what I would do as a teacher, but now is the time to go into parent mode and think of what I can do as a parent to get Thea excited about school.  After all, January doesn’t seem to instill much excitement in many people, students included, so I am here to help change that.  A few ideas to get your child excited about back to school, please add your own in the comments.

  • Get your child a new book.  There is something magical about a brand new never-been-read book  being placed into your hands.  I have expected my students to read over break and I hope they come back with great new book tales to share and discuss, so why not load them up with books either from a store or the library.  Help them take control of their reading and get them stocked up at the same time.
  • Ask the teacher about events coming up.  I know January can be a bit of a humdrum month so I make sure we have a lot of exciting things coming our way.   We have an author Skype visit, Mystery Skype, and a reading challenge to look forward to amongst many other things.  Why not reach out to the teacher to see what cool things will garner some fun in the coming month.
  • Set goals with your child.  My students set a lot of goals with me because they need to be the masters of their own learning journeys, so why not set some together?  Students get to slowly get back in academic mode and you get a window into their world.  Plus it is such a great experience hearing your child talk about their own learning.
  • Look ahead.  I am very transparent in what we will be learning so it would be great if you as a parent shared some of your own knowledge (if you know some stuff) or just what you would hope to learn about a concept.  Again, starting a meaningful and excited dialogue about the great learning that will happen is always a great way to ease back into school.
  • Ask about changes.  I know a lot of this is conversation based, but I find that often it is through conversation that we can get kids excited rather than bribery.  Ask your child what they hope to change in the next few months, whether it be with themselves or in the classroom and then come up with a plan to make it happen.  I practice student ownership at every opportunity and so this is something I will be asking students to do anyway.
  • Look forward.  I tell the kids we have a lot to do before they leave me and in January that seems to set in.  They know that as the days get lighter they are one step closer to middle school and I want our time together to count.  As a parent it is okay to acknowledge and celebrate the fact that a new grade is coming up.  Kids know it is too early to dismiss the current one but that there is a goal to work toward.  I celebrate the fact that all of my students are headed toward middle school and they know it.
  • Embrace the slowness.  January seems to slow us all down as we wind down after the craziness of December and winter in general.  Instead of fighting it, I tend to embrace it at home with my own kids.  We read more, we light more candles, and we do more family things in a small way.  I don’t expect my kids to go a mile a minute because that’s what they did in December.  Instead we cherish the quiet times in the house and we encourage more creative play.  Out with the noise and in with drawing, art projects, and many, many books read aloud or shared.
  • Highlight the social aspect.  I know school shouldn’t be about seeing your friends, but let’s face it, it is one of the benefits of going to school.  So instead of battling it or ignoring it, why not relish in the fact that your child will get so see all of their friends again every day?  As a teacher I know this is a major selling point of school, so I also work it into our day.  We come back with a little more time to talk, a little more time to catch up, and a lot more opportunity to do group projects if need be.  Make the social aspect work for your child rather than create more tension.
  • Get new school supplies.  I know this is a staple of the true back to school time – August – but most people get excited over new supplies.  New pencils seem to beckon to be written with, journals to be filled out, and erasers used.  Perfect time to get a few new things since most of my students have used up all of their pencils and erasers by now anyway.

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