Back to School

Superintendent Joe Potts · Wednesday, August 16, 2017
It’s that time again. The lazy days of summer are coming to a close and students and parents are preparing for the opening days of school.

There are a few common-sense suggestions that can make a difference for students and parents as they transition back to school schedules and routines.

Here are a few ideas that may help parents who are thinking about helping their children make a smooth re-entry into school.

Re-entry Period for School Start Times

Plan a re-entry period ahead of the first day of school. Many students use the summer time to sleep late and to extend their night time activities. Parents can assist students recalibrate their wake up and bed times by requiring their children to begin their school routines ahead of the first day of school. My wife and I generally began this process two weeks before school started. We have found that the shift to an earlier wake up becomes easier for children if they experience periods of time before opening day in which their school schedule was back in place. 

Discuss Opening Days before School Starts

Discuss the opening days of school before school starts with your children. Often young people who are going to school for the first time, entering a new school because of a transition among grades, have anxiety that can be addressed through conversation. To help reduce anxiety, parents should open up conversations before the first days, asking their children if they have concerns or questions or need support. Sometimes beginning these conversations helps parents understand their children’s thinking regarding school. These early and even daily conversations can help parents “problem solve” with their children well in advance of the opening bell. 

Debrief School Daily

As parents, we frequently, and most times, ask our children about school. However, general questions lead often to general responses. A general response that my wife and I have received from our kids has been, “It was OK.” We rarely allowed our own children to give us a generic response to questions about school, and we learned over the years to structure our questions differently. We would, and do, ask our own children: What was the best part of your day at school? And do you need assistance with anything? And we do not accept generic responses and regularly ask additional questions if necessary. The bottom line: we want to know how they are doing and feeling about school.

Attend Back-to-School Nights with Your Student

Each of the West Liberty Community School District Schools is holding a back to school night. Plan to attend this with your child. Attending back to school nights, or open houses, with your student signals a level of support, and children generally do appreciate that level of care. Getting into the school also enables parents to meet teachers, support staff, and school administrators who will be wonderful advocates for children should a problem surface. One time, we learned from attending a back to school night with one of our sons that he was worried about lunch. His anxiety grew out of his concern that he would have no one to eat with during his assigned time. Our interactions with our son during this time and steady communication with the school’s leadership class teacher helped create support structure for him: With the help of the leadership teacher, a number of leadership students volunteered to eat lunch with our son, and this made a difference. Two weeks later, this wasn’t an issue.

Discuss Manageable

Schedules

If your child is involved in a number of school activities or sports, develop a schedule for accomplishing school homework or tasks after practice and then dinner. When is practice? When will homework be accomplished? What kind of supports are required for managing time and reducing anxiety? Those involved in Advanced Placement courses as the high school level, for example, will want to schedule carefully as the demands placed on students are generally challenging. It is also a very good idea to identify a specific place where school homework is completed. Although the place and time for accomplishing school work differs based on student and family needs, determining a place—the kitchen table, perhaps—helps create clarity and enables the development of a routine. 

Eat a Nutritious Breakfast

It sounds a bit cliché, but it remains solid advice: One of the best ways to increase student success involves students eating breakfast before school. We have published start and end times in the Index and on our District’s Web page for our community to view. A flyer will be sent home the first week of school as a reminder to parents. Keep in mind that each school serves breakfast before the start of the day.

I hope that these ideas assist with a smooth school re-entry. And I am excited for the opening days and plan to attend each school’s open house night so that I can meet students, parents, and staff. I have included each school’s time and date for its open house below. My very best to each of you as the year begins.

Back-to-School Night Schedules

Early Learning Center

· Date: Tuesday, August 22

· Time: 5:30 to 6:30 PM

Elementary School

· Date: Monday, August 21

· Time: 6:00 to 7:00 PM

Middle School

· Date: Monday, August 21

· Time: 5:30 to 6:30 PM

High School

· Date: Monday, August 21

· Time: 7:00 to 8:00 PM
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