Ideas for a School to Home Letter Before School Begins: 

It’s that time of year again. Some celebrate getting their children back to school and into a regular routine. Others hate to see summer end. Either way, there are strategies that will undoubtedly require attention now.

The focus on the routines listed below differs by age range but there are universal routines that almost every student needs in order to be ready for school. One is rich discussion and questioning. Through personal observation this summer, I have heard a lot of grunting in lieu of a full sentence response, I seen reduced eye-contact and I have noticed very superficial response in return to questions. Learning expectations are higher than that. Other routines to address in the next few weeks are organization skills and increasing reading endurance.

In the next few weeks, parents should consider some of the following activities as you ready your child/children for back-to- school season:

1. Hearty Discussions: Ask questions that require (and you expect) more in-depth responses. For example, instead of asking “How was your day?” Consider asking, ´Thinking of what you’ve been doing this summer, what would you like to do next summer?” (Do NOT accept a grunt.) Be sure to insist on eye-contact and be in a listening stance. Be aware of the “nothing” response. Be ready with a follow-up question such as; what did you learn the most doing, or what were the activities that you would not want to do again.

Learning requires a great deal of thinking, questioning and listening. It also requires questioning. Students need to challenge themselves with questions; ask questions and respond to questions. As a former teacher, I can’t think of one question that I asked a student or group of students intending to get a grunt in return.

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2. Organization: With the weeks remaining your children should be practicing organization. What
do they need to get ready for the day ahead? What do they need to take to the pool? What
needs to happen before they visit grandparents for the weekend? Thinking through these
organization steps will help children to get a process in place for the “getting ready” part of each
day. Try to limit your responses to “Hey mom/day questions”. Instead of answering the
questions attempt to respond with another question such as “Where did you last have the
book?” Where are the places you have already looked? The more attention you pay to
organization the smoother your mornings will be.

3. Reading: Review how much time children (of all ages) have been reading per day this summer. Whatever it has been, attempt to gradually double the amount of time between now and the start of school. This is an age-appropriate challenge. If young children are reading 15 minutes a day, add one more easy reader to the routine. If your child is in middle school or high school and have only been reading 30-45 minutes per day, double it. Students are going to be overwhelmed with the amount of reading that will be necessary for them as they begin their next great year of education. Many students may still have their summer reading to finish, in which case, they can practice their increased reading time in order to complete that task.

It should be noted that this article does not address back-to-school skills. Skills are something you learn or master – like multiplication facts. Rather, these suggestions are routines that should be well established prior to the beginning of school. It can be lots of fun to get back into the groove and it should make the beginning of weeks of the school year more pleasant.

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Pamela Musick

Pamela Musick

Teacher, Administrator, Consultant

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

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