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Nancy Coolidge | Getting a Good Start in School

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We’ve finished those exciting first few days. Our kids have all the classroom rules and routines under their belts. Now it’s time to get serious about the subject matter – the meat and potatoes of their classes. Here are some more things you can do to get the year off to a good start. I will elaborate on many of them in the next couple of weeks

. • Get your student, no matter how young, in the planner habit. Many of the schools provide assignment books which you should use. They also contain valuable information about school closures, exam dates, sports events. Require your student to write something for all classes and check the planner daily.

• Never assume. If you suspect there isn’t enough homework coming home, if you aren’t seeing books and worksheets, check in with the teacher right away. Your instincts are sound. Do not as, “Do you have homework?” They do!

• Attend back-to-school night and any other orientations the school offers. You will learn a great deal about teacher expectations including schedules, homework, tests, and projects. Go – listen – follow through.

• Communicate with the teacher right away. Let him/her know that you want to be reached no matter what and how you can be reached and the best time to reach you. Teachers are thrilled to know there is support at home. They often like e-mail for “talking” to parents.

• Establish a regular study time. This is a daily block of time set aside for school work – both assigned and upcoming: tests, math facts, vocabulary development, writing, projects. You want to establish the study habit. Call it study time, not homework time.

• Do not ask “closed end” questions that can be answered with a single word or a shrug. Do you have homework? How was school? Did you do well on the test? “NO.” “Fine.” “I think so.” Presume there is always homework and make your student talk to you about the day.

• Get help. Your school can provide you with services and often with a list of tutors. There is often extra help available through the school. Don’t wait until it’s too late or the student’s confidence suffers.

Remember, if you have specific questions, you can email me at I love to help and it often helps me develop future articles. Let’s make this the best school year, ever!