10 Steps for a Positive School Kickoff

Thrashing Around on August 4, 2019
August 5, 2019
How to Write Better – 5 Ways to Write Your Way to the Top
August 7, 2019
Illustrated by Melissa Mead


  1. Engage your child in buying school supplies (look for lists online at the school website). If there are no lists, just get the basics, and take a second shopping outing after school starts and your child has list(s) in hand. Have fun at Target or Staples, and show enthusiasm for the kickoff of a new school year. (If you need help paying for supplies, check with a city, school, or church authority or representative; many towns have philanthropists who take care of this kind of need. (See information in #7 below.)
  2.  Set up a study place. This can be a desk or a little corner of your child’s bedroom, with rugs and pillows, beanbag chairs and blankets.
  3. Take time to sit down with each of your children and chat about what they expect this year. Ask for some great expectations. Be sure you don’t discourage or disparage ideas listed. This is your child’s school year—not yours.
  4. Supply tools. Talk about attitude. Set up vocabulary games for car rides to school. Ask your child what kindnesses he or she will do for teachers, classmates, new students, cafeteria workers, principals, counselors and office staff. Discuss good communication. Encourage your child to be proactive and unafraid—if the teachers welcome emails, nudge your kid to do this occasionally—but no overkill.
  5. Suggest volunteerism. Tell your child: “Offer to help your teacher, your classmates. You know how to carry things, water class plants and pets, and answer questions the teacher asks.
  6. Speak up when you cannot find your pen, pencil, colored pencils, or when you need help with laptop malfunction. Emphasize the word “proactive” so that they get that it is quite all right to ask for something at school and ask for clarification when instructions or deadlines are fuzzy.
  7. Get your child a new first-day-of-school outfit. If you need help paying for this, turn to centers that provide free clothing for those operating on minimal family finances. The point of this is that starting school in a looking-good mode makes your child ready to smile and exude confidence. Agencies that manage the homeless, United Way, churches, and food banks are good sources for backpacks and clothing.
  8. Let your child pick out a fabulous backpack. Who doesn’t love an attractive and hardy backpack? I enjoy shopping for ones that seem like a good fit for the particular child. If he is a sporty kid, look for ones that reflect that. If she is creative, find something with an off-the-beaten-track feel to it. Best way to match backpack to child is to take the kid with you to shop. You may be surprised to hear your sixth-grader has left behind last year’s preferences and is going in a totally different (design) direction. Lunchboxes are different. Don’t over-think these. Do get several because it’s a sure thing that one will get lost. If the child is twelve or older, avoid anything flowery, sweetie-pie, or superhero-spotted.
  9. Ask your child if they want to review math or English concepts that they learned in the latter part of the previous school year. Have them write a paragraph on one of these two prompts: Introducing myself is easy because I am mainly all about talking/texting, surfing, and cooperating. OR: Spending the summer traveling, sleeping late, and swimming made me glad I had two months off for R&R. (You fill in the activities you did during the summer.) It is always a good idea to help him/her “collect a few thoughts” because most teachers have students write an introductory essay. This way, the child will feel more at ease because he has gathered a few thoughts about summertime things he did.
  10. Before the first day of school, ask your child to write a sentence dated June 30, 2020, and use the prompt “This past school year was everything I wanted it to be because I learned all about_________, and I grew in several ways, including _____________________________________.” Then, next summer, look back at this sentence and encourage a discussion.
Blogged by Diane Stafford.