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Back to School Resolutions

September 5, 2017

By Jessica Vician

Back to School Resolutions

It seems that we celebrate the New Year twice a year—once on January 1 and once when school starts. After all, a new school year affects our annual calendar more than the official holiday. As we change our routine with the new school year, it's a great opportunity to reflect on the previous school year and set goals for the upcoming school year.

This year, I challenge you to sit with your children and discuss their "Back to School Resolutions." Think about and ask these questions:

  • What does your child want to accomplish this year? 
  • What were the best parts of the last school year? 
  • What were the hardest parts? 
  • What are they excited about this year?

It's a great time for your family to reevaluate priorities and form resolutions to keep everyone organized, happy, and healthy for this school year. Here are some suggestions to consider for your resolutions:

  • Physical fitness—Are your kids getting at least 60 minutes of exercise a day? Are you getting at least 30 minutes a day?
  • Nutrition—Is everyone eating whole foods with vitamins, protein, and fiber?
  • Sleep—Most kids should get at least 10 hours of sleep a night and adults should get eight hours.
  • Study goals—Do your kids have a specific place to go for quite, uninterrupted study time each day? 
  • Music—Which instruments are your children learning? Are you exposing them to a new style of music?
  • Teacher partnership—Have you introduced yourself to your children's teachers and communicated a desire to partner with them for your child's success?

What is your family prioritizing this school year? Tell us in the comments below.

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How can you practice parent engagement this school year?

August 30, 2016

By Jessica Vician

How can you practice parent engagement this school year? | Parents and teachers chat happily in a classroom.

You’ve prepared your child to start school by getting him or her into the back-to-school routine, buying school supplies, and sharing how to make a good impression on his or her new teacher(s). But have you thought about your role in the process once school starts?

Parents need to be just as prepared as students for back to school, making an effort to have a positive and open relationship with teachers and administration and practicing effective parent engagement at school and at home.

Parent Engagement at School

  1. Introduce yourself to teachers and administration.
    At the beginning of the school year, attend any parent-teacher meeting opportunities to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher(s). If there aren’t any formal opportunities, arrive at school early in the first week to introduce yourself to the teacher and administration.
  2. Share contact information and ask how the teacher prefers to communicate.
    Taking this initiative demonstrates to the teacher that you are proactively open to communicate about your child’s successes and/or concerns.
  3. Volunteer in the classroom or at the school.
    If you have time to volunteer as a classroom aide, to help at a classroom party, or chaperone a field trip, you can demonstrate to the school that you are an engaged parent while also demonstrating to your child that you are invested in his or her education.
  4. Request parent engagement training.
    The YOU Program, which is the parent engagement program upon which YOU Parent is based, offers various forms of training so that parents can learn how to best practice parent engagement with their children. You can learn the basics in a parent workshop and become a parent leader and train other parents at the school after attending a parent leadership training workshop.

Ask your principal about offering these workshops in your school, as they can boost student achievement by enlisting parent support.

Parent Engagement at Home
In addition to practicing parent engagement at school, you must also practice it at home by attending to your child’s needs while building the foundation for academic success.

A child requires all four of his or her core needs to be met in order to live a successful life, so parents must nurture a child’s social well-being, emotional well-being, physical health, and academic development.

You can do that by practicing these eight parent engagement activities and asking yourself:

  1. Are you paying attention to your child’s social and emotional well-being? 
  2. Are you making sure he or she is living a healthy life? 
  3. Are you coordinating with your child’s teacher to foster academic success outside of the classroom? 
  4. Are you modeling the behavior you want to see in your son or daughter outside the home?

By asking these questions and making a good impression at your child’s school, you’re already on the path to parent engagement success. Get involved and support your child’s needs to make this school year a great one.

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Our 14 Best Back to School Tips

August 2, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Our writers and program author have over 150 years of education and parenting experience combined. From all of that expertise, we’ve gathered our best 14 back to school tips and put them in one place—right here!—so you don’t need to look any further. From starting a new school to saving money on school supplies to sending your (no longer a) baby off to college, we have you covered.

Our 14 Best Back to School Tips | From starting a new school to saving money on school supplies to sending your (no longer a) baby off to college, we have you covered. | An elementary school student chooses a pack of pencils for her back to school supplies.

Starting a New School

Starting preschool, kindergarten, high school, or a new school system altogether can be stressful for some children. As parents, we must ease that transition so that their first experience in each school setting is one of comfort and excitement instead of fear and anxiety.

Here’s how you can prepare your child, depending on what new school he or she is starting:

Our 14 Best Back to School Tips | "Back to School" is written on an illustrated chalkboard with paint, rulers, and assorted school supplies in the image.

Back to School Tips

For kids returning to the same school, there are a few basic things you must do before they can start, including:

Once you have checked those activities off the list, relieve some of the anticipation and pressure of the first day of school.

Our 14 Best Back to School Tips | Going Away to College | A father watches his son grab his dorm supplies from the car.

Going Away to College

For teenagers heading off to college, it’s an exciting time. But for many parents and the siblings still at home, the first time a child goes off to college can be challenging. Learn how to prepare your family with these articles.

Whatever your child’s age, when you prepare him or her for school physically, emotionally, and socially, he or she will settle more easily into a successful academic routine. Use these activities to bond as a family before the transition and you’ll create happy memories before the school year begins. 

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Save Your Child’s Immunization Records

September 1, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Save Your Child’s Immunization Records | How long should you save your child's immunization records? Until they finish their doctorate. Once your child graduates from high school, they will need those records to apply for undergrad, graduate, and post-graduate school, so keep them just in case. | A doctor fills out an immunization form.

You know you need to save your child’s immunization records for a while, but just how long should you save them?

The short answer? Until your child finishes a doctoral program.

I know it seems extreme, but the reality is that pediatricians aren’t in business forever. While high schools keep records for some time after students graduate, if you or your child moves away, it’s hard to track those records down.

11 years after graduating high school, I decided to go to graduate school and needed to provide proof of certain immunizations. At that point, I had no idea where those records were. My pediatrician had retired long ago, and my undergraduate school wasn’t able to provide them. Luckily, my high school still had my records and my parents still lived nearby so my mom was able to pick them up for me.

However, most high schools won’t keep these records for more than a few years after graduation. To avoid your child needing to repeat vaccines or have extensive blood work done to prove immunity, keep these immunization records until your child is ready to take them for safe keeping.

The vaccines required may vary by state and school, but generally your child will need proof of the following:

  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis B

While your child might not have plans for graduate or doctoral studies right now, keep those immunization records in a safe place for many years after he or she graduates from high school, especially if you move. It might not seem like a big deal now, but your child will thank you if he or she ever pursues an advanced degree.

To learn more about college and career readiness and supporting your child’s health, read the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher 3-book set, available on Amazon.

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Reflect + Reenergize with These Back to School Activities

August 13, 2015

By Amelia Orozco

Reflect + Reenergize with These Back to School Activities | Regroup and gather your thoughts and emotions before the school year starts with your family with these 4 activities. | A girl blows bubbles in the park.

You are on top of your game. You have registered your child for school, taken him or her to the doctor for a yearly physical examination, and shopped for uniforms and school supplies. It’s all done. You’re ready for back to school. So why does it feel like something is missing?

It may be time to regroup and gather your thoughts and emotions in anticipation of another school year. It is also a great time to gather the family to do a few simple yet calming activities to help recharge everyone’s batteries.

1. Blow Bubbles and Make Wishes
Take a blanket or beach towel to the park and a couple of bottles of bubbles. Lie on your back and blow bubbles into the air. Make wishes for the new school year as each bubble flies away toward the horizon. Emphasize to your child that these are more than wishes left to chance, and that he or she really has control over the outcome of what they wished for based on the effort they put in.

2. Create a Sidewalk Masterpiece and Let Go of Summer
With giant sidewalk chalk, create a mural on a sidewalk. Take pictures of the finished design because it will soon wash away in the rain. Use this time to reflect on how the summer has come and gone, too, but that the memories you have will remain. The school year is another opportunity for all new adventures. You can print out a copy later and make a “first day of school” card for your son or daughter. 

3. Play Frisbee and Have Fun
It’s a low-impact and inexpensive sport that does not require much agility or skill, but will have everyone running around, letting go of stress, and giggling.

4. Role-play Teacher and Student to Prepare
You can do this at the kitchen table. This is a great time to role-play situations that may come up at school. For example, mom can play a student who is unruly and distracting, and someone else can play along to see how to remedy the situation.

Do you recommend your son or daughter change seats? Should they tell the teacher? Think of different scenarios than can come up in places like the school cafeteria, hallway, or gym class. 

Prepare for kindergarten, high school, or address new school anxiety.

These are only a few examples of how to spend the last few days of summer winding down and revving up for the school year ahead. Each family is different, so you may want to think of fun, simple games and activities you did as a child and make those part of your back-to-school tradition each year. A quick pause from the busyness of it all will give your son or daughter time to reflect and refuel for their demanding schoolwork and extra-curricular activities ahead.

Having an impact on your son or daughter does not have to cost tons of money, nor does it take much time. You will appreciate the sweet memories you are making when they have outgrown their desire to hang out with you on a lazy afternoon. 



Need more suggestions on preparing your family for the school year? The YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books provide activities and checklists to help.

Amelia Orozco is the senior editor and writer at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and a community and entertainment reporter for TeleGuía Chicago and Extra Newspaper. A mother of three, Amelia also maintains an active role in her community and church by working with youth and promoting education and diversity through her writing and volunteer efforts.

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