By BOB PALMER
The start of each school year brings its own case of the jitters. The Gatlin Brothers might have put it this way, “No matter where you’ve been before, Seventh Grade is a brand-new game.”
A friend’s post on Facebook jarred memories for me of arriving on the Texas A&M campus as a freshman in the Corps of Cadets. His video of morning formation on the first day of Freshman Orientation Week struck home.
As they watched the US flag rise quickly to the top of the pole and the bugler sounded “Reveille,” I suspect most of the fish could identify with a girl named Dorothy. “Toto, we’re not in Kansas, anymore.”
While your child will probably not have to march in step to the cafeteria, a few lessons apply to all start of the fall semester experiences.
- Clothes make the kid. The goal is to blend. If you don’t know what’s in style check with other parents. You don’t want you child labeled on the first day. There will be time enough for him or her to show their own dress preferences.
- Make sure your child knows not to be a bully, but don’t let anyone bully them, either.
- A little jingle in the jeans or a rattle in the coin purse helps. Many schools no longer require payment for breakfast or lunch, but there will be snack time. Your kid needs her own bag of Cheetos.
- Get to know the teacher. Meet the Teacher Night is a great start, but you are just one of 20 at that moment. Stay in touch with the teacher and stay informed about your child’s progress.
- Support the teacher. You may have more degrees than a Fahrenheit thermometer but keep criticism to yourself and for private conversations with the teacher.
- Get to understand the discipline rubric at your child’s school and make sure your child knows there will be consequences at home, as well, if he or she acts out.
- Find out if children at your school recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning or at least once a week. If they don’t, change schools or consider home schooling.
- Pray with your child before leaving for school.
- See if you can drop in for lunch some time. Your child will enjoy introducing you to her friends and you need to do a quality check on the cafeteria food. They probably don’t have the cinnamon rolls you remember.
- Get your child involved. The more activities, both academic and extra-curricular, the better (up to a point). A busy child has less time to get in trouble and a better shot at being happy.
If you see this as a call for more parental involvement in a child’s education than dropping the kid off at the school on time, you are a bright and perceptive reader.
“Ongoing research shows that family engagement in schools improves student achievement, reduces absenteeism, and restores parents’ confidence in their children’s education. Students with involved parents or other caregivers earn higher grades and test scores, have better social skills, and show improved behavior,” the National Education Association stated.
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