Back to School: Conversations to Have with Your Student

There are many lists on the web that provide parents with a general idea of how to help their children prepare for the upcoming school year. At Episcopal, we like to emphasize collaboration, support, and communication as the best ways to prepare for the upcoming school year. First and foremost, set aside a time when you can have an honest conversation about school. Discuss your and your child's goals and expectations, and how those goals will be met. Maintain a sustained conversation with your child throughout the process by asking for your child's thoughts and opinions about the various topics. Working together in setting goals and reasonable expectations allows your child to assume responsibility for success and helps him or her feel empowered. Below is a list that can guide the process of helping your child while teaching him/her to organize, prioritize, and be self-reflective.

  • Discuss summer reading. First, look at the school\'s Summer Reading LibGuides for instructions and any additional information, such as the way the class will be assessed. If your child has not finished his or her summer reading assignments, set aside time for reading now. If your child read the books earlier in the summer, help with review by using the teacher guides in the LibGuides.
  • Compile a list of school supplies. It is one tangible way for your child to start the process of getting ready.
  • Ask your child to set goals for the year and then talk about how she or he can best meet them.
  • Talk about what routines would seem to be most beneficial (breakfast, study, bed) for success and then break these down by making a plan of how to act on them:

    • Breakfast: discuss the importance of eating a healthy breakfast. What would your child like or need? Who will make breakfast?
    • Study: make homework and studying a priority: 1) designate a space to be the study zone where your child does his/her homework; 2) jointly, establish rules that reduce distractions: no phones, TV, music or electronic devices unless required by a teacher for a specific assignment.
    • Bed: agree on a reasonable time when your adolescent will head to bed for a restful sleep. Studies show that teenagers and adolescents need 9 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night. Discuss the importance of a good night's sleep and ask your child for input on how best s/he can meet the goal of getting nine hours of sleep per night.

  • Identify the extracurricular commitments your child has at school and outside of school. Talk through the details of the time and resources allotted to those activities. Discuss how your child can manage the time and determine if he or she is overcommitted and may need to make some choices about what to be involved in.
  • Have an honest conversation about your expectations and your child's expectations and how sustainable these expectations are. Review the routines in light of the goals and be willing to make changes to help your child meet these goals.
  • Be willing to adjust your own daily schedule or routines to help your child transition back to a school schedule.
  • Speak positively about learning; let your child know that you will support him/her. Do not focus on grades. Too much emphasis on grades at the expense of discussions about learning contribute to anxiety while undermining authentic learning. The goal is to encourage your child to be excited about learning and to understand that working hard and struggling are part of the learning process. Such a growth mindset sets your child up for a happy and enriching new year.

We hope that your child's start to the school year is a positive experience, and we look forward to welcoming them to campus next week!