By Joe Nathan
What can families do to help make this a great year for their youngsters? Cambridge-Isanti and other school leaders had creative and sometimes unexpected suggestions when asked about this last week.
Mark Ziebarth, principal at Isanti Intermediate and the School for All Seasons wrote, “As the 2011-2012 school year approaches it always is best for parents to remember that this is a new school year and a fresh start for their child. Remind your children to do their best and that each day is a new day. Develop a schedule each evening either for homework completion or reading if your child has no homework. Getting children into an academic routine each day helps them as they transition back to being full-time students.
Mitch Clausen, principal at Cambridge-Isanti High School, urged families to “Continue to communicate the importance of doing well in school. This is the last free education their child will receive so make the best of it. During their time at Cambridge-Isanti they have the opportunity to earn over 30 credits for college (college in the school) without even leaving the high school. Work hard but don’t forget to take the time to have fun.”
Linda Madsen, superintendent of Forest Lake public schools urged that families “Contact staff sooner rather than later with a potential concern or question to avoid or lessen frustration and miscommunication.”
Cam Hedlund, Director, Lakes International wrote, “Many schools either have open houses or before school ‘Welcome conferences’ as our school does. Make sure you attend or if your school does not provide that opportunity ask to meet with the teacher as early in the year as possible. A positive teacher- parent relationship is so important and the best way to start that relationship is with an in-person short conversation. It is your (the parent) opportunity to let the teacher know what your hopes and dreams for your child are this year and to give any information that would be helpful for the teacher to know about your child.”
John Phelps, principal at Blaine high school recommended, “Don’t ask if they have homework, ask if you can see what they have been or what they are doing in class. Ask your student to teach you what they learned today, you might already know the material but by teaching you they are learning it better.” He also urged parents to “Contact your teachers early, let them know you want to support them and ask them how.”
Jamie Steckart, Director, Northwest Passage Charter, had different, but equally specific suggestions: “With my own family, I make it a point to have healthy positive meals with my kids at least 4-5 times a week.”
Everyone is busy. But I think these ideas can both save time and really help young people have a more satisfying, successful year.
Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school teacher and administrator, directs the Center for School Change at Macalester College. He welcomes reactions, firstname.lastname@example.org.