The countdown is on! Two weeks until you send your kiddos back to school. You may be drowning in school supply lists and stressed about back to school shopping. Maybe feeling a bit anxious with all there is to do to be ready. I have complied a list (with the help of amazing FCPS teachers and moms) of suggestions and tips to make this time of year smooth sailing.
Tip #1- Begin the morning routine BEFORE the first day of school
“Start a week ahead of time putting the children to bed at a decent hour and waking them up at the time they will be getting up for school,” says Ellen Hammond, Special Education Teacher with FCPS.
She also suggests to go ahead with the entire morning routine like taking a shower, having breakfast and getting dressed. Hammond thinks this is especially helpful for those children who struggle with change in routine. The first week of school is fast paced and your child can’t afford to be groggy and unfocused.
Tip #2- Make a habit of checking the backpack
This one is important for you, your student and their teacher. The backpack will contain things like assignments, permission slips and their agenda.
“Checking the backpack can be essential for keeping up to date with your child’s education and things occurring in the classroom,” says Mandy Beach, fourth grade teacher with FCPS.
Unfortunately, she reminds us that you cannot always rely on a child to pass along important information and often that information is in the backpack! Which brings me to our next tip….
Tip #3- Sign up for online updates from the teacher/FCPS
“This is a big one,” says Beach, “It’s important to sign up for the updates because this is often the most frequent way the teacher communicates with their classroom as a whole.”
Parents can keep an eye out for messages from the teacher or check in on assignments due. It is simple and immediate.
Tip #4- Go to all school supported events
This tip is especially vital during those first few months. FCPS schools have events like ‘Meet the Teacher,’ ‘Back to School Night,‘ and even PTA sponsored events or fundraisers. This is a great way for you and your student to become familiar with the school and new teacher. While attending these events your student can gain a more personal vision of the teacher. Hammond suggests getting to know the teacher on a more personal level. This doesn’t mean to friend her (or him) on Facebook.
Hammond says, “Ask her if she has any pets, or what sports teams she likes.” This way your student has an opportunity to connect and relate with her which could help make the transition easier.
Tip #5- Get to school on time
Coming to school late constantly can sabotage your student’s academic success. Most classrooms have a ‘Morning Routine’ which sets the tone for the day. It is typically the same thing every morning. Unpack your things, sharpen your pencils, copy down your homework and then some sort of morning work. The time in the morning warms them up so their mind and bodies know what to expect the rest of the day. If they are constantly missing the mornings, it can lead to disorganization and issues adjusting to routine.
Tip #6- Avoid absence
Being in school is an imperative part to a student’s academic success. The FCPS calendar comes out early so you can plan doctor appointments or trips when school is scheduled closed.
On the same note, keep your child home when they are sick. Teachers do not want illness in their classroom. If you are sending your child to school while sick this could lead to other students becoming sick and even staff illness. This is not fair to anyone who is around the child. The school even has some important rules to consider. If a child has a fever, they must remain out of school for 24 hours. Please be mindful of others.
Tip #7- Preparation!
Christina Keith, teacher for FCPS, suggests setting yourself up for success ahead of time.
Keith says, “Mark (your) hangers M-F and hang your first week of outfits.”
That way your student can get dressed easily and isn’t spending ten minutes looking for that matching sock. Beach agrees that picking outfits ahead of time will save you time in the end. Also let your student have a say in what they want to wear so they feel comfortable and stylish during their first week.
Keith likes to pack her children’s lunches and have them shower at night which helps them get out the door quickly in the morning.
Keith encourages that parents of middle schoolers practice their locker combinations. Memorizing the numbers is one thing, but actually turning that lock right and left and right again is something that comes with practice. The first week is stressful enough. Your student doesn’t want the extra anxiety of being late because they couldn’t open their locker.
Tip #8- Send love
I still remember my mom’s cursive handwriting on the napkin notes in my lunch. Those notes made me know she was thinking about me and made me feel less homesick.
“Pre-write a note or two in their lunchbox and backpack. It is always a nice surprise to find,” says Keith.
Even though school is a very busy place, your children may still be thinking of you or missing you, especially in those first few weeks. Make sure they know you are loving and supporting them all day.
Tip #9- Wake up an extra 15 minutes early on the first day
I’m sure you could already think of 20 reasons why. But you also need extra time for those cute first day of school photos, says Keith. The morning may be hectic and you don’t want to run out of time for the picture. Plus if you are low on time and running behind, those in front of the camera may look grumpy. That is not a memory you want to hold onto. The day should be memorable and it is always fun to look back on those pictures.
Tip #10- Talk after school
The seven hours students spend at school are packed. Never accept your student “learned or did nothing.” Sit them down after school and go over their day. Ask to check their agenda or backpack. Ask them if they liked their lunch or who they played with at recess. You should know what is going on academically and socially with your child on a day to day basis. Things can change quickly and you don’t want to be left in the dust.
Throughout the article are good resources for you to click on to navigate through the new school year.
Click here for all the FCPS 2017-2018 school year information you need!