Wednesday’s Parent: Tips for a new school/year

Back to School

Back to School

Raising college-bound children is challenging, costly and stressful. Whether you are the parent of a preschooler or a college freshman, there are parenting tips and strategies to help your student achieve success. Wednesday’s Parent is a new parent series shared by your very own POCSmom Wendy David-Gaines and college prep expert Suzanne Shaffer.

Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

The first installment in the Wednesday’s Parent series is about ways to help your student attend a new school and have a successful new school year:

Wednesday’s Parent: Tips for a new school year

Whether the phrase, “Back to school” makes you smile or grimace, it signals change. Change can be especially difficult for kids attending a new school.

From preschoolers to college freshmen, there are universal parenting strategies that can help reduce the stress of adjustment so families can enjoy and be prepared for the start of a new school year.

1. New time schedule Usually a new school has different start and end times. That means new waking up and going to bed routines may have to be established. Make small adjustments each day to ease the transition.

2. New location It is natural to fear the unknown. Take the mystery out by visiting the new school. Many schools have visiting days but if they don’t, ask for a tour of the building and its surroundings to learn the layout

3. New transportation How students get to and from school may be changing, too. Do a dry run together to estimate how long it takes and to get familiar with the route. Discuss safety hazards. Also explore other to and from travel options should it be necessary.

4. New social status Entering a new school means the student is now on the low rung of the academic and social status ladder. At the same time, the student may have increased privileges and responsibilities at home and at school. This is a good time to chat about expectations.

 5. New peers Encourage your student to make new friends and keep the old but don’t be surprised if the mix changes as the student’s interests become more defined. Talk about how to make friends and how to deal with bullying.

6. New teachers Make sure your student understands her most important job is school and her boss is the teacher. She should follow the teacher’s instructions, go to work prepared, and complete assignments on time. Let her know that if she has questions or problems, she can always talk to you.

7. New school work It can be difficult to adjust to a new homework load. Make it easier by creating a quiet study space filled with good lighting and necessary school supplies. Add study time to a calendar listing activities (see #9). Investigate free homework help and tutoring options offered by the school and encourage your student to attend when necessary.

8. New issues Hopefully your student will like his new teacher(s), school, and classmates but be prepared to address the issue if there are problems. Let your student know you have his back and will be there to support him. Get the phone numbers of relevant school personnel should it be necessary to perform your role as parent advocate and schedule a meeting. (See Suzanne’s list with warnings about being a hovering helicopter parent).

9. New opportunities If there are student and parent email or text alerts, sign up. Keep on top of school events, clubs and activities to avoid missed opportunities. A calendar can help keep everyone up to date and regular planning conversations can keep the family on track.

10. New parent involvement New schools mean new opportunities for parent involvement. Join a parent organization and network to learn more about the school, student body and other parents.

Read on for Suzanne Shaffer’s tips for a new school (year). Enjoy your fresh start and have a great school year!

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