Parents Can Help Make Back-to-School Transition as Easy as 1-2-3

Parents Can Help Make Back-to-School Transition as Easy as 1-2-3

By Dr. Burton Sisco Dean, College of Education Rowan University As thousands of local students head back to the classroom this month, perhaps the most imp
By Dr. Burton Sisco
Dean, College of Education
Rowan University

As thousands of local students head back to the classroom this month, perhaps the most
important thing their parents and teachers need to remember is that 1 + 1 + 1 = success.

It’s common knowledge that parents and teachers need to be partners with children in order
to ensure that the youth, regardless of age, have a successful school year. A strong team
helps the students stay focused on and interested in their education and affirms the value of
that education.

As a teacher, professor, dean of the Rowan University College of Education and, maybe
most importantly a parent of two children, I’ve seen how parents and teachers can work
together to get the school year off to a good start. The following suggestions, in general,
reflect common sense. Nonetheless, at this time of year, with children and teens often
fighting the change from the relative freedom of summer vacation to the routine of fall, they
deserve repeating.

For the most part, students have been out of a regular routine during the summer.
It’s important for parents to reestablish a quiet study time. Youth today face a lot of
competition for their time–sports, homework, friends, chores, family activities. You
may need to encourage your child to cut down on such things as telephone or
television time so that he or she can spend the proper amount of time on homework.

You should work with your child to establish realistic goals for the school year,
letting him or her know exactly what your expectations are and why you have them.

Use parent-teacher conferences to your advantage. Begin forming a relationship with
your child’s teacher early in the school year. Share things about your child you may
have concerns about; don’t let the teacher have to discover things on his or her own.
Within reason, the more the teacher knows about your child the better he or she will
be able to work with him or her. It helps a teacher to know such things as family size
and structure, what parents do for a living, what the family does together, if there are
any special concerns such as an ill family member. When a teacher knows something
about a child’s background he or she may gain better understanding of why a child
behaves a certain way or approaches school in a specific manner.

Should a problem arise, reinforce with the teacher your concerns and ask for the
teacher’s input on how you as a parent can help resolve the situation.

In working to form a partnership with your child’s teacher, volunteer to be a part of
the class life. Chaperone a field trip. Visit on career day to talk about your line of
work. Attend open houses.

Put yourself in the teacher’s shoes. We expect a lot of teachers and, as they are
entrusted with our most important treasures, we have a right to. But they are not
perfect, nor should we expect them to be. Make sure you are realistic about your
expectations of your child's teacher. You and your child are entitled to a teacher who
is competent, caring and qualified; someone well trained who stays current with his
or her knowledge base; is a good communicator who is motivated and demanding
and fair, firm and friendly. But don’t expect Superteachers; they are rare indeed.

If you have concerns about your child or your child’s relationship with a teacher, call
the teacher. Don’t automatically go above the teacher to a principal or
superintendent (unless the complaint involves a concern such as harassment). Listen
to what the teacher has to say. If the problem continues to exist, then approach the

If your A student has suddenly become a C student don’t assume it’s the teacher’s
fault. Check with the teacher to see if he or she has any idea as to what your child’s
problem is. Ask for suggestions on how you can help remedy it.

It will probably take a few weeks for children (and parents and teachers) to adjust to the new
school year. Be patient with them. Be patient with your child’s teacher as well. We ask a
great deal of teachers today. We want them to teach and to inspire. But they are not your
child’s mother or father. You have an essential role in your child’s education. Lay the
groundwork early in the year for what should be a strong working relationship that will
benefit your child now and in the future.