Conversation and preparation: Supporting your child in the coming school year

Posted: 08/17/2020 15:31:54 PM

As the new school year approaches, or maybe already here, many parents and guardians are wondering how best to support their children in the uncertainty of the upcoming school year. As schools grapple with the big decisions about how they will deliver education; whether it is face-to-face, at a distance, a mixture of the two, or an evolving model according to the circumstances, one thing is certain, we must prepare our children differently for this school year than in the past. The good news is that our situation is no longer new. We have had time to absorb the shocking changes that have occurred and can move on to thoughtful action.

So how can you best support your child to make this school year worth it, lay a solid foundation for the school years to come, and maybe even exceed expectations? Today we’re going to cover three things you can do to get your child’s school year off to a good start.

Start with a conversation

The school year begins every year, literally like clockwork. It’s so ingrained in our lives that we often don’t take the time to think about how this year could be different and what exactly we would like to gain in return for our precious time. Pausing at the start of the school year for conversation encourages children to think about their education; the value it can bring, the things they can learn, their hopes and dreams for the year, and the role they play in their own success. The conversation and the reflection that follows sets the stage for thoughtful action. Here are some ideas to start the conversation:

■ Talk to your child about things that went well over the past year. The things that, if they continue to do them, will contribute to success.

■ Ask your child what he hopes to learn this school year? What is important to them?

■ Ask your child to imagine having a great school year and to describe it to you.

■ Ask your child how he thinks the school year might go? How they could change what they do, to adapt to changing educational formats; face-to-face education, hybrid education, distance education.

■ Ask your child what he thinks he needs to be successful this year and if he has any ideas about how you can help him.

■ Ask your child if they have any special thoughts or concerns about the coming year that they would like to discuss.

Continue preparation

You will need to establish a work area. A specific work area is even more important this year, as it could be not only the homework site, but also the school itself. Thinking, then choosing a suitable workspace with your child will be essential to develop good work habits and ensure success. A special workspace should tell your child, “This is where you do important work. The age and level of independence of your child will determine how much you need to be involved in this process, with a tone of value and enthusiasm, both for the site and for the work that will be done there.

Start by asking your child what they think they need to be successful. It is preferable that the site meets certain criteria:

■ Has a table or desk and chair.

■ Is equipped and replenished with necessary supplies.

■ Is free from distractions during work periods.

■ Is organized and clutter-free.

■ Is comfortable, welcoming, and a place your child wants to be.

■ Can be monitored often or occasionally by you, as needed.

Establish a routine

Routines are beneficial for many reasons including; reduce stress levels, increase focus and productivity, create good habits and develop effective time management skills. Establishing routines early serves to send the message that your child’s work is meaningful, important, and valued by you. Although routines provide structure, they must also be flexible to adapt to changing conditions; whether for daily schedule changes that accommodate sports and other activities, or larger changes required if and when schools move from teaching in school to a distance learning model or hybrid.

When establishing a routine for distance learning or after school homework, consider:

■ Set a consistent time to start labor.

■ Establish time blocks for work.

■ Limit breaks to about five minutes in a block – making sure not to start anything during the break that will be difficult to get away from.

■ Homework overview; identify work as “high intensity” (requiring increased concentration and effort) and “lower intensity” (easier to do and of shorter duration). It is helpful to perform high intensity work when it is cool and to separate high intensity from low intensity tasks.

■ Do the same subject at the same time of day.

■ Fill out a schedule template of what you will do and when you will do it, so you can see the day / week at a glance.

Getting our children off to a good start to the school year is just one of the many ways we can help them in their quest for academic success. Do not hesitate to contact me via my website,, if I can be of any help during the school year.

Alice Giarrusso is the Academic Coach at Bishop Brady High School in Concord. She is the author of “The Learning Curve: Navigating the Road to High School Success”.

Previous the pandemic brought this Irish woman closer to her home
Next The kindness of strangers | Information Grosse Pointe