It could be my imagination, but the second the last fourth of July sparkler is doused, those three ominous words are everywhere: Back to School.
That simple phrase immediately and subconsciously triggers a “to do” list: pack lunches, replenish school supplies, clean out backpacks, and reinstate bedtime… The list is endless.
Whether one is playing the role parent or the student or possibly BOTH, we all could benefit by reevaluating our “to do’s” for going back to school.
To Do #1: Commit to becoming an active participant: Teachers do not just want parents to be involved in their child’s education, they rely on it. Active participation as a parent means more than just communicating with teachers during conferences or when the teacher reaches out with an issue. Beyond traditional parent activities which teachers greatly appreciate (donating supplies, volunteering in the classroom, making sure homework is done ), schedule time on your calendar regularly to connect with your child’s teacher (call, text, or email) to give feedback about your child’s successes, progress, and struggles so you create a positive/open relationship with your child’s teacher. If you, yourself, are going back to school, the same advice applies. By establishing a relationship with your instructor, you build a comfortable bridge upon which you can give feedback, seek help, and self-advocate.
To Do #2: Manage screen time: Most folks cringe when they learn how many of their daily1440 minutes are spent staring at a screen. If “screen time” is a reward or relaxation, factor that into your routine, but budget how much time you have to give to it. Know yourself and your kids. Often, screen time can be distracting and keep you from completing priority items. If that self-awareness reveals that all “must do’s” need to happen before screen time, set that example and create that expectation for your kids. Students rely on technology as a great learning too, but it needs to be used wisely. Learning to co-exist with technology is critical for academic success.
To Do #3: Recognize effort and growth: Achievement often is influenced by what we believe about ourselves and children are especially impressionable. I have listened to parents casually label their kids with little thought to the effect. “My oldest is my Brainiac, and my middle is my creative one, but my baby is the funny one.” All three of these descriptions are positive, but they are also limiting. And more importantly, none of these descriptions attributes any effort by the child. Compare the effect of hearing this kind of language to the effect of adopting a vocabulary of earned and developed attributes. I would love for my children to overhear me telling my friends how brave, grateful, determined, thoughtful, and hardworking they are. Each of these traits is a result of effort on their part. Each of these traits is a choice. And achievement just so happens to be a by- product of each.
Along with glue sticks and Trapper Keepers, let’s set all students up for success this year by focusing our Back to School efforts on what they really need.
Written by: Dr. Pamela Roggeman, Academic Dean, University of Phoenix College of Education
Dr. Pamela Roggeman is a proven academic leader familiar with and passionate about technology in progressive education and has extensive experience designing curriculum and preparing teachers in a university setting. Roggeman currently serves as the Academic Dean for the College of Education at University of Phoenix. Roggeman currently serves on the National Advisory Board for Spark 101, a member of the 114th Partnership focusing on STEM education and the ETS NOTE Educator Prep Advisory Council. Previously she worked as a program coordinator and clinical instructor and led secondary education programs for the graduate and the undergraduate colleges at Arizona State University. She earned both her Bachelor of Arts in Education and Master of Arts in Education Psychology from The University of Arizona. She achieved her Education Doctorate in Education Leadership and Innovation from Arizona State University.