Starting the School Year Off the Right Way

As the summer draws to a close, both children and their parents begin to think about preparing for the school year ahead. There are always supplies and clothes to be purchased and plans to make for a successful academic experience.

After all, the slate I clean – no matter what the past year brought in terms of classes and grades, this year offers the promise of being equally good or better.

Students, Take Note

Students can help themselves, setting a positive tone for the year, by following a few tips set forth by Gabrielle Flank, writing for the Huffington Post.

  • Be organized. Ensure that you have the notebooks and writing implements you need to get your work done and stay organized.
  • Plan ahead. Between homework assignments, extracurricular activities and, for some, part-time jobs, it may be challenging to keep track of obligations. Keeping a calendar listing all your meetings and deadlines will help you with time management, the key to juggling your various responsibilities.
  • Build homework into your daily schedule. If you set aside time for homework, over time it will become a habit. Procrastination is a student’s enemy, so keep on top of your assignments. Considering adding an online tutoring program to enhance your study time.
  • Communicate with your teachers. You need to know your teachers’ expectations for your progress so that you can work toward those goals. They want you to succeed, so asking questions or seeking help should be welcomed.
  • Understand your learning style. People can be classified as auditory, visual or kinesthetic learners. Know how you learn best and adjust your studying style accordingly.

Parents and School

School is a large part of any offspring’s life from age five onward. For parents, overseeing a student’s journey becomes a one of your missions. Every parent undoubtedly wants his/her children to enjoy learning and to succeed at school, but when problems arise, these good intentions often fly out the window as frustration takes over.

It’s important for parents to think through their own educational philosophy and the educational expectations they have for their children and to convey so that everyone is in accord and you can help foster success, says

Assess your own philosophy about education. Take a hard look at your own values. What matters to you about your children’s education? Why is school important? How do you define success in school? Once you understand your own philosophy, share it with your children.

Now, move on and consider your expectations for the school year. Think about the things you want your children to achieve this coming year and how those achievements are measured. Do you expect A’s on every test? Are you hoping to see hard work and diligence? What are the qualitative and quantitative standards to which you’ll hold your children accountable?

Once you’ve set your expectations, you must ensure that your children understand them, too, and knows the consequences for not meeting these expectations. Children appreciate knowing the rules and boundaries, even if they test them. Be firm and consistent, but not unfair or cruel.

Laying Groundwork for Success

Once you and your children are clear on goals and expectations, it’s a part of your responsibility as a parent to provide the conditions that facilitate success. Identify his or her strengths and weaknesses in terms of academics. Discuss time management and the importance of keeping commitments. This is also the perfect time to talk about the factors that are conducive to your child’s success, including:


  • Proper amount of sleep
  • Bedtimes


  • Nutrition, eating habits
  • Meal times


  • Work space
  • Lighting
  • Noise
  • Distractions



  • Study breaks
  • Extracurricular activities

Once you have a sense of what will work and what won’t, it’s time to draw up a contract. Yes — a contract for success. It should clearly state the results you expect; the child’s responsibilities; the support and oversight you will provide; a rewards/consequences system based on efforts and results; and a way to adjust the contract as your child changes and expectations change. Both you should sign it and move forward toward academic success.


Your support is invaluable to your children as they strive for success at school. This means avoiding negative feedback whenever possible, recognizing that you are helping to inspire a love of learning and good study habits that can last a lifetime. Sidestep the following pitfalls whenever you can:

  • Criticism that is harsh or unexplained – be diplomatic if you must deliver criticism
  • Inauthentic praise – look for actual positives to compliment instead, even if they are small
  • Talking to your child’s teacher without giving your child a head’s up – he or she deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect, despite his or her youth
  • Doing your child’s homework – they need to try and even fail on their own; effort and ownership is important. No one will be there to run their lives for them as they grow up.

So, start the school year off with a bit of forethought and it should unfold with only minor bumps along the way!