Amy McCown, a fourth grade teacher at Walker Elementary said parents can help their students get ready for the school year by practicing certain skills they’ve already developed to keep their minds sharp before classes begin.
“I would recommend parents consistently practice reading and math skills from the previous year before school starts,” McCown said. “This ensures students are at the same academic level as they were before summer. In many instances, if a student does not get exposure to academic work in the summer months, they will lose information they have already learned.”
For Michael Guzman, the band director for Tuscaloosa County High School, having students stay moving, especially outdoors, during the summer is a simple, but effective way parents can help teachers during the school year.
“Keep the students active. I say this not from the perspective of a band director, but in general,” he said. “Some students spend the entire summer indoors and don’t even communicate with others face-to-face. Get out with your kids and be active. This will help them get ready for all the activity associated with the new school year.”
Organization is also extremely important, Kathryn Wilkerson said. Wilkerson, a Spanish and English teacher at Hillcrest High School, said making sure your student has their ducks in a row can keep them on top of the many assignments that are sure to come.
“There is so much to keep up with when you are taking six, seven or eight classes plus extracurricular activities,” Wilkerson said. “Students need to use a planner. Write it down. We provide our students with an easy-to-navigate planner, and it gives them a source of help at their fingertips.”
While learning organization skills before school even starts, students could also stay ahead of the curve by picking up a book to read before bed. Ashley Koh, a second grade teacher at Southview Elementary, said just 30 minutes of reading can be the best thing they’ve ever done.
“Research shows that nothing is more highly related to reading achievement than reading volume,” Koh said. “In order for students to develop a habit of reading daily, it should be fun for them. I recommend parents give their child a choice about what they want to read (given the book is on their reading level), because the child will be much more engaged in the text.”
Starting the school year off right isn’t just about the new habits to put in place – it’s also a chance to relive favorite back-to-school routines. Carrie Lucas, a kindergarten through second grade autism teacher at University Place Elementary School, said she enjoys the excitement of a new beginning every year.
“This is a chance for a fresh start, a ‘tabula rosa,’ if you will, of new ideas, refreshed minds and refocused energies to engage the leaders of tomorrow. I am even more excited that in my field of teaching, I have the opportunity to begin with many of the same students from last year. I have had time to reflect and truly try to develop more engaging and impactful lessons for the upcoming year.”
In preparation for their students, there are activities some teachers do within the first days of class that never happen again. For Kayron Berry, a third grade teacher at Huntington Place Elementary, back-to-school activities are a way she has her students learn more about one another.
“I love getting to know the new students with icebreaker activities and pictures. I always take my time with classroom routines that we will be doing all year. I’ve learned the slower I go, the less discipline issues I have, because they know all expectations I have, and they are high expectations,” Berry said. “They will be with me more than at home and they really do become my babies and always will be.”