This story was first published on Aug. 20, 2018.
As kids count down the days before school starts, parents can add up the ways they can help kids transition into a new year of learning.
The most important thing parents can do is to foster their children’s dreams, says James Fogarty, executive director of A+ Schools.
“Our job as guardians of our children is to help them imagine a world for themselves that is rich, fulfilling, and challenging,” he says. “As you help your child imagine what they might become, help them to connect what they’re learning in school to that greater future vision for themselves.”
Getting kids off to a good start requires practical strategies. That’s why A+ Schools partnered with Be a Learning Hero, a national initiative that helps parents and kids start the new academic year with excitement and continue that energy through the school year.
“At A+ Schools, we work with parents and students in schools across our city to help them advocate for changes that can improve education in their communities,” Fogarty says. “Be a Learning Hero’s high-quality communications, their easy-to-use parent guides and tools, and their ongoing research made them a natural partner for our work.”
Be a Learning Hero’s research-based campaign, Super 5: Back-to-School Power Moves, offers five important actions parents can take to help set kids up for success throughout the new school year. Follow the links for additional tips and strategies.
Super 5: Back-to-School Power Moves
1. Get a gut check. Use the Readiness Check to see how prepared kids are for their new grade. Pay attention to how easy or hard it is for them to do grade-level tasks. Look at their annual state test results from last year as a basis.
2. Partner up. Follow tips from the Readiness Roadmap to develop a good partnership with teachers. At your first teacher meeting, for example, bring your child’s state test results and ask what they mean for this year. Find out what’s expected of your child and the ways you can support that effort at home. Help teachers get to know your kids by sharing their interests and strengths. Include details you learned from the Readiness Check.
3. Make it fun. You are the expert who knows your child best and can help make learning exciting. Read together with kids, choosing topics that are most interesting for your child. Find math in everyday life and turn it into a game, such as counting change, measuring ingredients or weighing produce at the grocery store. Take the stress out of homework time. Each of these small learning moments adds up.
4. Celebrate effort. Help kids see that hard work leads to success. Focus on effort and kids learning to help develop “learning muscles.” This practice helps build confidence. Kids will feel less nervous about new tasks or subjects.
5. Support life skills. Life skill strengths, such as communication, problem-solving and confidence, will help kids navigate through school and beyond. Talk openly with your kids about how they feel and how they handle situations, especially the tough ones.