It’s Back to School time!

By Chuck Kajer

Here it is, almost mid-August, and we’re starting to talk about school again.

For several weeks, all the stores have been touting their back to school specials, kids are spending their parents’ (and in some cases, their own) money on pencils, notebooks, backpacks, new jeans, shirts, shoes, mp3 players or new cell phones (we don’t dare get caught with last year’s technology). It seems everything needs to be new come September 1.

And, if you hadn’t noticed, we have our Back to School section in this week’s edition of The New Prague Times.

In the halls of our local schools, there will be plenty of new things. New teachers are starting in each of the buildings in the New Prague public school system. Holy Cross School will open a brand new building, and every school will welcome new students. As parents we hope and pray that our children will have a good experience in the schools. We are, after all, entrusting the school system, the teachers, and the entire school staff with our most precious assets, our children.

There are a number of things a parent can do to help their children have a good year. Everyone seems to have their own ideas. This is a list I found on the internet, from the North Carolina public school system.

• Provide your child with basic needs (proper diet, clothing, school supplies).

• Provide a study environment conducive to learning at home.

• Contact your child's teacher(s) and visit your child's school and classroom.

• Meet and talk with other parents and school staff.

• Learn about your school's curriculum and support services.

• Reinforce learning at home, in the community and on vacations

• Notice when your child completes homework and provide encouragement (For example, you can say, I really like the way you're getting your homework done. That's what I expect from you.).

• Recognize progress. Praise steps taken and efforts made.

• Help your child stay calm and confident on test days, and send him/her to school well rested and having had breakfast (or your child can have breakfast at school).

• Encourage your child to talk to teachers if he/she does not understand an assignment.

• Read and talk about information sent home from school.

• Talk about school every day. When your child knows that you think school is important, he or she will take it more seriously.

• Discuss with your child how learning in school helps in everyday life.

• Teach your child to set goals.

• Be a good example yourself that learning is a lifelong process.

I spent four and a half years in college preparing to become a teacher, two years working as a substitute teacher, and spent three years as a teacher, helping junior high and high school students learn about history, government and English. In looking at the list, I can honestly say that the students who showed success in the classroom were usually the ones who had parents who were involved in the schools. They were the ones who had their kids ready for school and made sure they were in school each day. They were the ones who called me if they had a concern. They were the ones whose parents reinforced the idea that learning was important. And more often than not, they were the ones whose parents set the example.

So parents, as you entrust your children to a staff of dedicated professionals whose goal is to make sure your child has a successful school year, remember, you play a major role in helping the teachers, and your students, achieve those goals.

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