The start of the 2018-19 school year was especially exciting. I mean, really, how often does anyone get to walk a red carpet and be cheered and greeted as they enter…anywhere?
As we get to the work of learning at RCLS, we consider the implications of that red carpet. It was fun, for sure, and we hope that welcome served to alleviate any apprehension new or returning students had about the school year. We hope it brought some fun to a transition that we know can cause some anxiety. Even more, we want students to look forward to school every day, whether or not a red carpet lines their paths. If only they could imagine that red carpet all year long!
In truth, that red carpet has significance in more ways than one. As a parent who has carefully considered educational options and subsequently chosen RCLS, you surely recognize the significance of a school setting. You recognize the immense value of education in a child’s life. Education is, indeed, an endeavor that deserves the red carpet.
Now that the excitement of the start of the school year is behind us and we are beginning to settle into daily life and learning at RCLS, we anticipate a healthy partnership with you in the education of your child[ren]. We are delighted to play a key role in building an academic and spiritual foundation on which your children can build a life of learning. In that vein, RCLS’s K-5 teachers offer the following 5 Keys to School Success––keys that contribute to a foundation that fosters present and future academic and personal success.
1. Establish a routine.
When asked for their input on the Keys to School Success, RCLS teachers unanimously agree: routine is king. Young children feel secure when they can maintain a consistent schedule, notes Mrs. Andersen, and they “feel confident at school when they are prepared for each day,” agrees Mrs. Frey. Fifth grade teachers Mrs. Gustafson and Mrs. Woolman note that even as children get older, they need to have an established pattern of going to sleep, eating breakfast, leaving the house, and more. Homework must be in the pattern, as well. “Set up a plan for when to get homework done that can be the same most days,” Mrs. Gustafson says. “That way the children get used to it and know what to expect.” Then, don’t forget to facilitate a good night of sleep for your child, for children who get regular sleep are more focused in the classroom. Makes sense, right?
2. Read with your child.
You have heard it before, but RCLS teachers believe it worth saying again: read with your child. Mrs. Holtan contends that this is one of the most important things parents can do for their children. Indeed, there is an entire body of research that supports the claim that literacy––and learning confidence––increases when parents and children read together. Even more, there is a growing body of literature to support the idea that the practice of reading is passed on. As recently as May 2018, researchers published a study that indicates that “parental reading-related knowledge is associated with children’s reading outcomes in both Kindergarten and Grade 1” (Segal & Martin-Chang, 2018). In other words, there are a number of ways to support your child’s reading development and competency. Reading aloud to your child has the added benefit of providing bonding time with your child, while listening to your child read or taking turns with reading aloud grants your child the advantage of practice and the likelihood of increased confidence. Then again, since, as the study claims, “the apple doesn’t roll far from the tree,” it appears that if your child sees you reading––for work or for pleasure––he/she is likely to learn from your example. So, then, read…and read with your child.
3. Reconnect with your child every day.
In our culture, this is harder than it sounds—certainly harder than it should be. We are tempted to succumb to the practice of busyness, even with our children’s schedules. I suppose this is, in part, because we don’t want to neglect any opportunity for our children. To be sure, extracurricular involvement is critical to a balanced approach to child development, but this comes at a cost, an especially high one if it means irregular connection with your child. Classroom teachers are keenly aware of this critical issue. Mrs. Frey observes a sense of security in students who have the opportunity to decompress and reconnect with family members at home, while Mrs. Andersen notes that such reconnection need not always be lengthy. In the case of a busy day, she notes, “do a two-minute check with your child when he/she gets in the car.” Still, there is little substitute for eye contact with your child, she contends. “Give your child a snack when she gets home, sit across from him, and ask, ‘What did you like about today? What was hard? What do you want me to help you with today?’” If it is clear a child is not ready to share immediately, remember that some children need to decompress in a quiet space first. “Create a soft, fuzzy space for the child who needs a little alone time,” Mrs. Andersen says, then, when the child is ready…connect!
4. Maintain communication and engagement with the school.
RCLS teachers are eager to communicate with parents. In their minds, if parents have open communication with classroom teachers, those teachers are better equipped to educate and minister to your child. That, in turns, suggests better learning outcomes. When parents and teachers are in close communication, Mrs. Wooten explains, “small problems don’t become big problems.” Surrounded by adults that share a common goal, a student benefits from the expectations these adults hold in common and, ultimately, that student “is more likely to achieve academic success.”
It is important to note, in a school context, communication goes beyond just sharing information. Communication happens organically if parents are engaged in classroom and school-wide activities. Parents should leverage the opportunities and events at RCLS “to get involved with other parents,” Mrs. Andersen notes. Volunteer in the library. Attend athletic events. Help with lunch. Support classroom activities. These are a few of the many ways to get involved at RCLS, involvement that promises the opportunity to communicate with other school parents and your child’s teachers.
5. Transmit the value you hold for learning.
Finally, RCLS teachers recommend that parents are mindful of passing on a high value for learning. “Our kids mirror us,” Mrs. Lagerwaard insists, “so parents that place a high value on education are likely to pass that value on to their kids.” Teachers offer any number of ways that parents can support their children’s learning and love of learning. For example, Mrs. Wooten advocates that parents foster a positive perspective on homework. Don’t let homework time become stressful, she notes. Put simply, she says, “Don’t let anyone get worked up into a fuss!” The Love and Logic Institute recommends the practice of sitting down with your child and allowing him/her to point out “the best things” he/she did on school papers or allowing your child the opportunity to share his/her school success. Also, teachers propose that school-age children should learn to see school as their “job.” Children may learn from their parents that even when things get hard at work, “we don’t quit,” Mrs. Andersen says. Work is hard and sometimes learning is hard, but when children find support for their efforts at home and school, they may persist and even adopt the “core value” of learning that their families hold.
RCLS teachers are quite sure that we have the best of families in Rochester. Thank you, parents, for valuing education as you do. Thank you for being a part of our school. We are honored to partner with you.
Happy school year, everyone!
Segal, A. & Martin-Chang, S. (2018, May). The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: parents’reading-related knowledge and children’s reading outcomes. Reading and Writing 31(5). p. 1231-1247.