The Times West Virginian

August 25, 2013

Working together is key for great school year


Times West Virginian

— We’ve got one week of school under our belts. Things aren’t so scary for the kids anymore — they know their schedules and their teachers’ names, they’ve made a few new friends and have reunited with ones they lost touch with over the summer months. The brand new sneakers have a few scuffs, and the brand new shirts have some spaghetti stains on them.

School personnel have more than a week under their belts, too. They’ve gotten to know the kids that will be with them throughout the year. They probably have a pretty good feel for how the year will go, what to adjust to meet the needs of their students and the dynamics of the class.

Working together is key. That’s going to take a monumental effort for students, teachers, administrators, support staff and parents and guardians, too.

With all that in mind, we ask that all invested keep a few things in mind as the school year progresses.

Be involved.

Talk to your kids about their day. Go through their backpacks and folders with them for flyers and paperwork they may forget to hand off. Discuss assignments. Look at their planners provided by the schools and encourage them to use the planner. Volunteer at the school. Join the PTO. Send in school supplies that will benefit the entire class, like tissues and antibacterial wipes.

In the same way, we encourage school personnel to be involved with students. If you take just a small interest in their lives, they will see this is more than just a job and they are more than just a number. That will go miles toward earning their respect.

Give students a chance.

It’s been a long summer, though the calendar still says August. Days were filled with trips to the pool, vacations, hanging out with friends, nonstop chatter on social media sites, television, eating when you’re hungry, late nights. It’s an adjustment for kids to get up at dawn and be expected to sit at a desk for seven or more hours on their best behavior. But the “Season of Forgetting” is over. We know how frustrating it can be to reteach things they should have mastered two years ago, but give them a little time. Their brains will warm up and they’ll get into the swing of things.

And please also remember that kids carry around the weight of the world in their backpacks. Maybe there are family issues or money problems or peer interactions that are distracting them from their course work or causing an interruption in the class. We can’t fix all of their problems, but we can sure make good use of the support system that is in place within the schools before issues escalate into problems.

Give teachers, school personnel and administrators a chance.

There was a lot of paperwork to fill out. There were letters from teachers about policies, requirements and expectations. There are school rules, like attendance, cell phone use and dress code policies. Read them. Don’t get angry about a possible problem three months down the road. Show your child that you support the school and the teachers and the rules that have been set in place. Policies and rules are usually set in place because of past experiences, and school administrators want to curb potential problems so that the day goes smoothly from the first bell to the last.

Support schools and their athletic teams.

School fundraisers have started already. Children in bands and on athletic teams are tagging at area stores. Understand that the money raised benefits programs that could not exist without donations and fundraisers. We know that tax money goes toward schools, but it often isn’t enough for the extra things that enrich a student’s education, like music and extra-curricular activities, technology and more. So whether it be pepperoni rolls or cookie dough order forms, school logo attire or a kid in uniform in front of a convenience store, give what you can.

Communicate.

Almost every problem or potential problem can be solved with a little communication. Whether it be phones calls, emails, text messages or hand-written notes, the flow of communication between school personnel and parents should never stop. And communication, like old-fashioned phones, works both ways. Never hesitate to pass on crucial information to the ones who need it.

You know, we have a feeling this is going to be a pretty good school year, too. Sure, there may be a few bumps along the way. But in the end, if everyone works together in the best interest of the children, the 2013-14 school year has the potential to be a stellar year.