Teachers’ Perspective: How to Prep for School Success
We asked teachers, educational influencers, and experts how they advise students and parents to prep for school success that will last the entire school year. Here’s what they had to say:
“As an elementary school teacher, I feel that much of the prep work for a successful school year lies within the hands of the parents. Prior to the school year starting, children need to get back in a routine of going to bed early and waking up at the time that they will [need to wake up] at the start of the year. Discussions between parent and child about expectations for the school year are also imperative. Parents need to continue to be the role models for their children and display acts of good citizenship so that students see this as the norm, and [they should] increase their children’s sense of responsibility. . .
Getting kids excited for the school year is a great way to plant the seed for a successful school year. Parents can look up the curriculum for the next grade level and talk about all of the friends that their children will be making. Sending a child back to school with a positive attitude can make a world of difference in his or her confidence and outlook for the school year. As parents work together with their children to ready them for the upcoming year, the transition back to school is made easier for both the parent and the child.”
–Rachel Anderson, third-grade teacher for five years at Alberta Smith Elementary School in Midlothian, Virginia
“The answer to this question could fill a book. There are the general activities of buying supplies and new clothes and deciding how lunches are going to be handled. Though sounding mundane, these experiences are important because it is a time for parents and students to prepare together. If done wisely and with some freedom on both sides of the negotiations, the planning can be a fruitful and fun experience.
I think it is important that parents, in some way, relay to the student that each school year is a new beginning. A student shouldn’t be put down about the mistakes of last year. Make the new year full of hope and excitement. That will help both parents and children not to stress so much about the new year. Parents should also plan to be involved with school activities.”
–Marilyn Hoadley, retired teacher of 14 years, previously taught third grade at Houston Elementary School and Meadowbrook Elementary School, followed by teaching assignments at Aliviane, a facility for delinquent teens, and with homebound children.
“Get school supplies to take notes and stay organized. Create a physical workspace, so you stay organized. And, create a virtual workspace so you can save files on your computer.
Parents should print the school calendar and keep it in a visible place. Schedule a time each day to help the student with missing assignments, check completion, read emails, etc. Find social outlets for students, such as art or music classes, sports, local clubs or online groups, etc.”
–Beth Watt, fifth-grade/higher-education teacher for 12 years. Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy
“I think that the two most important things for students to do in order to prepare for a successful school year are to be organized and ready to take charge of their learning! Students should have a dedicated place to do their schoolwork that is free from distractions. Plan out your week, paying attention to special due dates. Again, organization is the key to this! I have found that my successful students are the ones who take charge of their learning: they ask questions and they come to class sessions when they don’t understand a concept. Successful students find out what they DO know and DON’T know so that they can get help on understanding what they don’t know!
Parents should make sure to read emails from teachers and administrators to make sure that important due dates and other information aren’t missed. Keep a calendar nearby to jot down those due dates the first time you see them, so they are already there! Don’t hesitate to reach out to the teachers when you have questions or concerns.”
–Elizabeth Nelson, high-school math teacher for four-and-a-half years, middle school math teacher at Arizona Virtual Academy for two years
“Students, take ownership of your education, it’s all about your future! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek out the answer. If your teacher sees you trying, they will help you in any way they can. Just remember if you don’t know the answer right now, you CAN learn it.
Parents, you’re a partner in your child’s education; we can give them the tools, but we need your support for them to reach their full potential. It’s important to help your child with homework and studying for tests. Reading together every night is something little that can make a BIG difference!”
–Amanda Logan, special education teacher for five years, currently teaching at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School in Front Royal, Virginia
“Every school year and grade level are different. Try to view the new year as an opportunity for success. Just because you struggled last year doesn’t mean that you will struggle this year. Look for some way to improve or change.
If you haven’t in the past, reach out to your teachers. It is never too late to begin to reach out to them. They want you to succeed but they do have a lot of students to work with. If you do not reach out to them they may not know how much they can help you.”
–Thad Simmons, math teacher at Nevada Virtual Academy (NVVA) high school with 40 years of experience, founding board of directors for NVVA, basketball coach, and track and field coach @ThadTSimmons
“Students should not be afraid to try new things and follow their passions in the new school year.
Parents should help their children organize and provide a quiet area for them to study. They need to work with their children’s teachers and find ways that they can expand learning.”
–Jerry Blumengarten, educator, speaker, and writer: cybraryman.com @cybraryman1
Do you agree with these recommendations? What tips and tricks do you think are the key to school success? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @LearningLiftoff.
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Brittany Marklin is a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff and a community manager for K12. She coordinates all K12 student contests and connects with families who pursue online education. She attended George Mason University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing, with a minor in tourism and events management. Brittany spent her first five years at K12 on the social media team where she aided with content and strategy for multiple channels, and helped construct K12’s user-generated content site, “What’s Your Story?” When she’s not working, Brittany loves spending time with her husband and daughter in North Carolina.