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Top 10 Tips for Starting a Successful School Year

The president of the California Parent Teacher Association shares a list of things that teachers wish parents would do during the school year.

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.

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