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Top 10 Tips for Starting a Successful School Year

Carol Kocivar, president of the California Parent Teacher Association, shares her tips for the first week of school.

Carol Kocivar, president of the California Parent Teacher Association, is a blogger on Patch sites in California. Are you interested in blogging on your local Patch site? Email the editor to get started (find his or her email address in the top left corner of the homepage).

When my kids were little, my wish for the start of the school year was pretty basic. It started with making sure the kids were dressed, had breakfast, and were out the door on time and not still in their pajamas.  Easier said than done.

There were all kinds of strategies:

  1. Lay out clothes the night before.
  2. Practice putting shoes on.
  3. Set the alarm.
  4. Forget laces and invest in Velcro.
  5. Darn, set the alarm for 15 minutes earlier.
  6. Explain what it means to eat your breakfast.
  7. Ignore socks that don’t match.
  8. Get homework, backpack, jacket ready the night before.
  9. Ooops. Get kids to bed 15 minutes earlier.
  10. Special Rule: It’s okay if mom is still in pajamas if she is driving kids to school. No one will see.

We all know there is a lot more to student success than just getting to school on time. But as Woody Allen once said, "90 percent of life is just showing up.”

Here are some additional tips from the California State Parent Teacher Association (PTA):

Ten Things Teachers Wish Parents Would Do

1. Be involved in your children’s education. Parent involvement helps students learn, improves schools, and makes teachers’ jobs easier.

2. Provide resources at home for reading and learning.  Have books and magazines for your children and read with your children each day.

3. Set a good example. Show that you believe reading is enjoyable and useful. And it can be reading in any language.

4. Encourage children to do their best. Children need to be guided to set obtainable goals.

5. Confirm that academics are of primary concern, followed by preparation for the adult job and involvement in athletics and other extracurricular activities.

6. Support school rules and goals. Take care not to undermine school rules, discipline, or goals.

7. Use pressure positively. Encourage children while being careful not to apply too much pressure by setting unrealistic goals or by involving children in too many activities.

8. Call teachers as soon as a problem becomes apparent, so prompt action can be taken.

9. Exercise parental responsibility. Don’t expect the school or teachers to take over this job. For example, teaching basic discipline is a parental rather than a school responsibility.

10. Understand that alcohol use and excessive partying are problems. They take a serious toll on a student’s health and classroom performance.

You can find more resources to help start a new school year on the state PTA's website. Everyone is invited to join PTA as we work to improve the lives of California’s children.

Carol Kocivar is the president of the California Parent Teacher Association.

Cheryl Ortega August 17, 2012 at 02:47 PM
As a kindergarten teacher I would add that it would be great if parents talk about school as a great place to be where children learn wonderful things like how to read books and play with other kids. Many kids are sleep deprived and this doesn't help them do well at school. Be sure and set and enforce healthy bedtimes. The American Pediatric Assn says that 5 yr. olds need 12 hours of sleep in every 24. Kids will like school if you do. Get to know the teacher. It's good for everybody.
Jared Morgan August 17, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Thanks for the info, Cheryl. I've got a few years to go before my daughter is old enough for school, but your advice on sleep sounds keen.
leftylimbo August 17, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Great tips. I have a son that just started 1st Grade and these will come in handy. When he was in Kindergarten, I always found that laying out the clothes the night before bought us extra time the following mornings.
Cheryl Ortega August 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Resist being sucked into the test-obsessed world of LAUSD. Of course you want your child to do well, but he/she will do the best if the school day regularly includes science and the arts, as well as language arts and math. These are regularly excluded because they are not tested areas. Talk with your principal often. Join your School Site Council and Leadership Council. Be part of decision-making at your child's school. Parents are the most powerful group of people at a school.
Mattey's Mom August 18, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Over & again it was stated on last night's network special honoring our nation's teachers, that being exposed to 'the arts' in school changed so many students' lives for the better; because (1) it offered a path to those whose family economics would never have been able to provide them such exposure; (2) it identified & encouraged creative talent whether for personal growth or as a future career path (3) test scores in 'core' curricula improve when arts (including visual & performance) are a part of a student's school experience (4) it offers a safe alternative to 'going down the wrong path' (5) it builds self-esteem & team-building. The same is true of the sciences. It was inspiring to see how kids in even the poorest school districts in the nation were excited about science, excelled & realized a level of intelligence, purpose & focus that they didn't know they had. A shout-out to all these teachers that deliver 110% despite cutbacks & a broken education system.

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