With so much change taking place in the school system, it’s hard to get excited and be positive about starting another school year. Adapting to change is difficult, especially when dealing with constant change and uncertainty.
During high school, my daughters were impacted by a school rezoning plan and were assigned to a brand new school that was opening for the first time. The only infrastructure in place was the administration. There were no existing student or parent organizations, band or sports teams.
We chose to embrace this as a positive situation, understanding that everyone was going to have to make adjustments and that it was better to be involved, fostering a positive environment rather than complaining.
There were many challenges, but keeping an upbeat attitude and staying focused helped us have a positive experience.
Whether your child is attending a new school or returning to their existing one, there are things you can do to make this year a positive one.
Focus on the positive: Do not set negative expectations or reinforce the negative aspects of your child’s school. Every school has challenges – inadequate staffing, disciplinary issues, working with few resources and meeting administrative demands. Stay focused on what you can improve instead of what you cannot change. Set goals for the year and focus on those things that are important to you. When negative things happen, take appropriate steps to address.
Become involved: For some reason, after middle school, parents are less likely to be involved with their child’s school. High school is where students transition from adolescence to adulthood. These are the years where students develop the foundation and character necessary for entering college, the military or the workforce. It’s where attitudes and values are developed and decisions that have lasting impacts are made. Statistics show that parental involvement has a positive impact on student grades and achievement. Even though your student may say otherwise, they need you to be there for support, encouragement, and guidance. Make time to attend events during and after school. Get to know their friends and the people they interact with.
Be an informed parent: Recognize when things are not going well at school. Address problems early with a solution in mind. Stay in touch and build a relationship with your child’s teachers and counselor. Make sure you know what services the Students Services department offers and take advantage of the services that benefit your child. This could be anything from academic and personal support to career development. If the resources your child need are not being provided by the school, then seek alternatives.
Get your child involved: Students are more likely to enjoy school when they are involved. Encourage your child to become involved in school activities. Their involvement helps build relationships with other students and adults they may not otherwise meet. Encourage them to do something in areas they enjoy. In some cases this may entail being involved with organizations outside the school. There’s more to school than going to class and studying. Encourage and help your child become a well-rounded student.
Praise your child: No matter how big or small the event, accentuate the positive things going on with your child and celebrate successes. Don’t wait until the report card arrives to communicate your feelings about how your child is doing academically. Congratulate him for doing well on a test, making the team or joining a club. When things are not going well, sit down and talk about it, find out what he intends to do to improve and how you will support him.
The most important thing to remember is that acquiring an education is the first step to being prepared for future possibilities. It is the parents’ responsibility to do everything possible to make sure their child receives the best education possible under whatever circumstances are present. Unfortunately, some of the circumstances may not be favorable and you may be limited in your alternatives, but do everything possible to make the best of the situation you are in.
Macie Caldwell is owner of Macie Caldwell Consulting Services (www.maciecaldwell.org), a Charlotte business that provides information, tools and resources to parents, students and organizations to assist in preparing students early for college.