10 Tips for School Success This Fall

In many parts of the country, the 2021-2022 school year is getting ready to start in a few short weeks. And for other parts of the country, it’s going to be here before you know it!

But fear not – we’ve got some tips for how to help your child transition back to school. Our advice will help this fall go smoother. (Phew!)

6 Things Parents Can Do to Prepare for the New School Year

11 Questions to Ask Your Child at the End of the School Year

Let’s face it, we all just wanted to survive last school year. But here’s the good news, you may not have realized it at the time, but you and your child learned a lot about adapting last year. So, take a minute and try these 6 tips to put those learnings into practice for THIS school year!

1. Talk to your child’s teacher(s) from last year. Emily Levitt, Sylvan's Vice President of Education, says, "If can still communicate with last year’s teacher(s), ask where your child struggled the MOST last year. Was it turning in assignments? Writing paragraphs?" Knowing this information will help you have a better plan for in the fall!

2. Find out how your child’s school will handle recovery from last year. Some schools may be proactive and send out their plan ahead of time, but you will likely need to ask what the plan is. Email your child’s new teacher(s) or call the school BEFORE the new year starts. "There was a lot of leeway in how kids were scored last year. The report card might not be the whole story," says Levitt. "Ask, 'Did last year prepare my child for this year? How will I know how my child did last year?'"

3. Use your findings to assess if your child may need outside help. Now that you have an idea of what your child struggled with last year, and how the new school year will be handling recovery and scores, you can determine if your child needs some outside help.

Many kids will benefit from extra support this year, and that’s where Sylvan comes in. “Our Insight™ Assessment is a good place to start,” says Levitt. “When your child completes the assessment, we can identify his/her academic strengths and weaknesses. Then, we can get your child prepared with a personalized learning plan for the new year.”

Need a boost in reading skills? We can help! Need some help with study skills? We can help your child with this! Missed a few key concepts in math? We’ll get your child caught up!

4. Impose the two-week rule. With later bedtimes over the summer, children need to ease back into their school routine rather than having a sudden change their first day of school. Using the last two weeks of summer to re-introduce a school year bedtime routine will make waking up on that first day a lot easier. (Think, fewer tears and less rushing around in the morning!)

5. Reintroduce regular meal times. During summer months, kids tend to grab a snack several times during the day. Parents can start reminding students to get back into a 3-meal-a-day schedule to regulate their system into the back-to-school mode. Nutrition is an important factor in academic performance, and eating a healthy, balanced breakfast and lunch keeps kids alert throughout the day!

6. Create a family calendar. Time management is tricky for everyone, but especially kids and teens. Planning is an important way to save everyone’s sanity! Having major deadlines, due dates, events, vacations and extracurricular activities mapped out in one place helps kids visualize their week, manage their time and stay on track. Remember to put the calendar somewhere centrally located, so you and your family can easily see it!

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4 Tips for Success When the School Year Begins

1. Organization is key.

For students ... Keeping class/Zoom schedules, notes, online portal login information, projects and reading materials in logical order helps your child find what he/she needs right away. It cuts down on time spent tracking things down, and allows more time for actual studying.

For parents ... If your child is in elementary/primary school or middle school, you’ll want to regularly access your child’s learning management system to keep an eye out for any red flags. Are assignments being turned in? How are their grades? Plus, Levitt recommends taking a peek in your child’s backpack. How organized is their backpack? Do they have a planner, are they using it?

If your child is in high school/secondary school or the last years of middle school, you want them to be more independent. So, Levitt recommends checking the online learning management system once or twice at the beginning of the school year. Then, check in with your teen to see how he/she is feeling. If things are looking organized, great! If things are not looking organized, it’s time to help your teen get organized and empower them to keep it that way.

2. Take good notes.

For students ... Yes, it does matter. Taking good notes helps keep kids’ grades up, especially in middle or high school. To boost note-taking skills, students should practice picking out the “main ideas” in conversations, news reports or magazine articles.

For parents ... If you notice your child is not handing assignments in on time, has poor time-management skills or grades are slipping, it’s time to talk to your child about WHY these things are happening. Is he/she not understanding the material? Is your child getting bored with the work because he/she already understands the concepts and isn’t being challenged? These are signs you want to take note of, because it means it’s time to ask for help from the teacher or Sylvan.

3. Concentrate. It’s important for students to concentrate and avoid distractions when an instructor is presenting. This will be even more critical if your school is keeping any remote learning. Remind your child to take good class notes, and review them as soon as possible to make sure he or she understands. If your child doesn’t understand something, encourage him/her to ask follow-up questions at the next class or email the teacher.

4. Speak up.Students should listen carefully and spend plenty of time reading directions. But, it’s normal for students to get tripped up by homework or test instructions, and they may be more hesitant to speak up during class after a year of virtual learning. Tell your child it’s really OK to raise your hand and ask a question! Empower them to advocate for themselves.

Get Your Free Back-to-School Planning Session

If you’re looking for some guidance with navigating the new school year, your local Sylvan team is here to help.

We offer FREE Back-to-School Planning Sessions with our education experts to help answer questions parents might have and to provide advice, guidance and share tools that can set kids up for a successful school year! Find your local Sylvan today.

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We'd love to talk with you about how we can help your child reach his or her individual goals!