OCPS Back-to-School Parent Tips

  • Before buying back-to-school clothing, check the school’s dress code to ensure that your child will be in compliance.

  • If it’s a transition year for your child (from elementary to middle school, or from middle school to high school), or if your child is new to the district, visit the school to familiarize him or her with the building.

  • Many beginning middle-school students are anxious about their ability to master the
    combination lock on their locker. When you visit the school, ask if your child can practice unlocking a locker.

  • If your child participates in sports, make that sure he or she has had a recent physical
    exam, and that the proper forms have been completed and returned to the school.

  • After the “lazy days” of summer, it’s important to re-establish a more structured routine during the week or so before school resumes.

  • The beginning of each school year offers students an opportunity for a fresh start. Sit
    down with your student and set goals. Discuss the pros and cons of the previous year,
    and how some things can be changed for the better.

  • Carefully review the important information that is sent home with each student at the
    start of the school year. Complete and return any necessary forms. Organize the rest of the material in a special folder that you can keep handy.

  • It’s particularly important to update the emergency-contact information for your student, and send the form back to the school office.

  • Contact the school in writing if your child is has special needs or circumstances that
    teachers should be aware of, such as a need to take medication while at school.

  • Sit down and review the student handbook with your child.

  • Finally, don’t be afraid to fill out the form for the free or reduced-price lunch offered by
    school districts to students who qualify. This information, say the educators, is strictly
    confidential, and no one in the lunch line can tell if your child is receiving this benefit.
  • Meet the new teacher.
    • For kids, one of the biggest back-to-school fears is "Will I like my new teacher?" Breaking the ice early on is one of the best ways to calm everyone's fears. Take advantage of your school's open house or back-to-school night. Some teachers welcome phone calls or e-mails -- another great opportunity to get to know each other before the year begins. If personal contact with the teacher isn't possible, try locating the teacher's picture on a school website or in a yearbook, so your child can put a name with a face. If your child's teacher sends a welcome letter, be sure to read the letter together.

  • Tour the school.
    • If your school hosts an open house, be sure to go. Familiarizing your child with her environment will help her avoid a nervous stomach on the first day. Together you can meet her teacher, find her desk, or explore the playground.
      With an older child, you might ask him to give you a tour of the school. This will help refresh his memory and yours.

  • Connect with friends
    • A familiar friend can make all the difference when heading back to school. You might try calling parents from last year's class and finding out which children are in your child's class this year. Refresh these relationships before school starts by scheduling a play date or a school carpool.

  • Tool up
    • Obtain the class supply list and take a special shopping trip with your child. Having the right tools will help him feel prepared. While keeping basic needs in mind, allow for a couple of splurges like a cool notebook or a favorite-colored pen. These simple pleasures make going back to school a lot more fun.
    • School supply lists also provide great insight into the schoolwork ahead. Get your child excited about upcoming projects by explaining how new supplies might be used. Let him practice using supplies that he's not used before -- such as colored pencils or a protractor -- so he will be comfortable using them in class.

  • Avoid last-minute drilling
    • While it is important to support learning throughout the summer, don't spend the last weeks of summer vacation reviewing last year's curriculum. All kids need some down time before the rigors of school begin. For some kids, last-minute drills can heighten anxiety, reminding them of what they've forgotten instead of what they remember.

  • Ease into the routine
    • Switching from a summer to a school schedule can be stressful to everyone in the household. Avoid first-day-of-school mayhem by practicing your routine a few days in advance. Set the alarm clock, go through your morning rituals, and get in the car or to the bus stop on time. Routines help children feel comfortable, and establishing a solid school routine will make the first day of school go much smoother.

  • Be interested and enthusiastic about the start of the school year. If you are confident and excited, your child will be too.

  • If you have visited your child’s school already, you are one step ahead of the game. If not, take a walk around the school with your child and locate his or her classrooms,
    lunchroom, playground and restrooms. This will help keep your child from feeling lost on the first day.

  • Take time to listen to your child and discuss aspects of the new school that he or she is worried about. Remember to let your child know that it’s normal to feel nervous about the start of school. For parents of younger children, suggest that your child take a family photo or special object to school to make his or her surroundings more comfortable.

  • Spend time each day talking to your child about what happened in school. Give your child positive feedback about his or her new experiences.

  • Praise and encourage your child to become involved with school activities and try new

  • Attend school functions and stay involved in your child’s education. Children whose
    parents are more involved with their education have higher achievement, are better
    adjusted and are less likely to drop out of school.

  • Make a point to learn about how your child develops not just physically, but socially and emotionally, as well. If you are aware of what’s typical behavior and thoughts for your child’s stage of life, you will more readily be able to tell when things may not be right