Start The School Year Strong

It’s almost time to start the school year. As a parent and a teacher, I am determined to help my students and my daughter have a successful school year. What can we do as parents and teachers to help our students start the school year strong? Whether you are a parent, teacher, or both, here are some tips to help children start the school year out on the right foot.

How to Help Students Build A Strong Foundation For a Great School Year

Happy Students at the start of the year. Starting the new year strong

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Learn how parents and teachers can help students start a new year strong, giving them a firm foundation to build on for a great year of learning.

Validate feelings

Parents and teachers are both anxious about going back to school. Imagine how our children and students feel! When children express anxiety about returning to school, don’t dismiss their feelings or say “everything will be fine”. Ask the child why they feel this way and allow them to talk about it. Being anxious about starting the school year is normal, but providing emotional validation helps students start the school year strong.

At the same time, it’s OK to show your kids and students that you are excited about going back to school. Don’t tell them their feelings are unimportant, but share that you are confident that the start of the school year will be a success.

Set short term goals

Every school year, teachers set long term goals for students to master by the end of a term or the school year. As teachers and parents, we can help children set short term goals they can reach within the first few weeks of school. These goals should be specific to each learner but include some of the following:

  • Be on time for school and class each day.
  • Find a club or activity to participate in.
  • Introduce yourself to at least one new classmate.
  • Read a book of your choice within the first month of school.
  • Talk about what you’re learning with your parents.

Of course, short term goals can build into long term SMART goals as well. These types of goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Talk about these goals with your children and students in order to start the school year strong.

Never forget the importance of SMART Goal Setting!

Smart Goal Setting

Find a balance with technology

Whether your students or your own children learn online or in-person, try to find a happy medium when it comes to screen time. Tools like Zoom are valuable to connect with other students and teachers, but it’s OK to unplug too.


If you’re a teacher, consider which tasks are necessary to do online. My background is in instructional technology, and I really love everything Google, but sometimes, we all need some offscreen learning time.

When designing lessons, I consider the SAMR model. This stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. Substitution means that the task is simply being put on digital format to save paper. The same task and same outcome can be completed without the use of a device. Think of digital worksheets or ebooks. Although these may be ideal if students are learning from home, it’s also OK to provide printable handouts and materials. Augmentation is similar to substitution, but there is some improvement by adding a digital component. For example, a video tutorial may be added to enhance the assignment. Modification means that the task is significantly redesigned because of technology. For example, students share and collaborate with others even if they are not in the same classroom, school, city, state, or even country! Redefinition is the ultimate in technology-enhanced assignments. Assignments that are at redefinition on the scale would be impossible without the use of technology. For example, students create an app or 3D model to demonstrate learning.


For parents, finding that tech balance may be having them unplug for awhile once they’re finished with their remote learning or homeschool work or when they return home from school. Maybe that means limiting video games and getting outside to play ball or walk the dog instead. Have a meal as a family or simply talk about their day. Most importantly, model getting offline by keeping your own screen time during non-school and work hours to important tasks. Sometimes, mindless scrolling social media can be fun, but optimize that time to share some downtime with your children.

Parents and teachers, you can help students start the school year strong by showing you understand their feelings, helping them set goals, and teaching them how to utilize technology appropriately. This school year can be another successful one if we all work together as a community of learners to support our kids!

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