Starting on a Positive Note: Tips for the First Weeks of School
Starting on a Positive Note: Tips for the First Weeks of School
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 by Andilynn Feddeler

During the first few weeks of a new school year, students must adapt to changing daily routines, new peers and teachers, as well as challenging social and educational situations. Parents often worry about how their kids are doing at school, and teachers often wonder if students are engaging with curriculum. The beginning of the semester is a crucial time in determining whether a student will feel welcome and successful in the classroom. Below are some ways to foster that acceptance and start the school year on the right foot:

For parents:

  • Communicate with your child’s teachers. Let them know about any learning needs or medical information that may be helpful, without belittling them or insisting that your child’s needs are more important than other students’. Teachers will likely appreciate having an open line of communication that allows them to better understand what may or may not work for their students.

  • Ask something other than “How was school?” right when the kids get home. Give them space to breathe, especially those who refuel with alone time or may not want to talk about something they just spent 8 hours doing. Try not to get frustrated when kids shy away from those afterschool Q&As, and work to understand what types of conversations they might prefer.

  • Encourage healthy study habits, time management, and responsibility by setting standards, supporting positive behaviors, and allowing students the amount of independence they need.

For teachers:

  • Tell your students about yourself, and encourage them to do the same. Whether through icebreakers and introduction powerpoints or more casual “get-to-know-you” activities, being open can encourage students to trust you and not be afraid to express how they are feeling. All too often, students don’t think of their teachers as people with emotions and lives, which can lead to a disconnect that can be harmful to learning.

  • Listen to what students have to say, and take them seriously. Use their preferred names, and take interest in their extracurricular or creative pursuits. If students feel like their teachers care about them and that they are accepted, they can become much more inclined to be excited about learning.

  • Let students and parents know about the resources that are available to them. Discuss your office hours, where students can go for support within the school, and helpful websites or communities families can look into.

Every student is different, of course, and it’s worth taking the time to research what can be effective for individual learners. There are countless back-to-school tips out there, whether about social-emotional health or what backpacks to buy; but one of the most important steps in starting the school year off on a positive note is to listen to what students have to say about their own needs.