The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice


Here we go again! It’s time for shiny new shoes, logoed backpacks and bright-eyed kids excited to meet their new teacher and reacquaint with schoolmates. Back-to-school optimism is contagious and we want to keep that positive momentum going beyond the first week of school. Here are six sure-fire ways to keep the school year successful and keep motivation high.

  • Get the kids to school on time. Students who are consistently late miss curriculum. They often interrupt instruction and that can be embarrassing. It may even be punitive. The making of a pleasant morning starts the night before. Bedtime routine is as important in junior high as it is in kindergarten. According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, school-age kids need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a day.
  • After school time must be supervised. Lollygagging in the playground after school is not time well spent; it can be dangerous for your child and a liability for the school. If your schedule does not allow a pick up by 3pm, arrange for an after school activity or program. Check to see if your school has after school care. Often the local library offers a homework club.
  • Help with Homework. As a former teacher, I’m a firm believer that homework should be based on review curriculum and should be able to be completed unassisted. All teachers do not have this philosophy. Many times kids need parental involvement. Don’t hesitate to explain directions, read aloud information and solve math problems together. Ask your child’s teacher how much time should be spent on homework and discuss modifications if need be.
  • Communicate often with teachers. No need to wait for the teacher to contact you. Be proactive. Many important announcements, permission slips, assignments, flyers and graded papers do not make it from the classroom to your kitchen table. This is especially true in middle school. A weekly or biweekly chat or email with the teacher will alleviate this potential problem.
  • Share family news. No needs to get super personal but if something is affecting your child’s behavior, attitude or work habits, share it with his teacher. The more informed the teacher, the better able she is to empathize with your child and modify curriculum and/or class time and activities to ensure your child’s success and security.
  • Get and keep your child organized. Checking backpacks at least once a week may reveal important papers and even half-eaten lunches. Keep a neat, well-supplied homework space and talk to your child about upcoming family and school events. A conspicuous calendar with relevant dates and the family agenda can be a lifesaver.

The stress and strain of helping the kids with homework, perusing mounds of paperwork and preparing clothes and lunches can be overwhelming but is well worth the time and energy. We all know that learning is not confined to the four walls of a classroom. Be kind and congratulatory to you kids and yourself. As parents we want to role model competence and hard work, but we also want to acknowledge that hard work leads to sweet rewards.

Contact Margaret Lavin at


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