Published in the August 15 – 28, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life

Melanie Corona

The beginning of the school year is upon us — and there is excitement in the air! Preparations are being made as families ready their children to join their classmates on campus. Teachers and staff are looking forward to meeting their new students and each school’s community is excited to begin the journey of another year full of academic achievement, life lessons, new friends and more.  As we move into the 2018-2019 school year, it is so important for parents, students and supporting family and friends to remember that learning at school, both academic and social, begins the very first day of school, and we want all students to be there from day one.

Research shows regular school attendance is vital to high student achievement and academic confidence. It is crucial each of our students attend school regularly. The first few days of school are imperative to student success — it is in the first days of a new school year that classroom routines are established, teacher expectations are communicated and connections between classmates and friends are solidified. When a child misses the first days of school, they begin the year at a disadvantage.

Gilroy Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Deborah Flores reminds us that, “The negative academic consequences of missing school are significant. It is imperative that parents, families and the entire community understand how essential regular school attendance is for student success and that we work together to get all students to school. Establishing that regular school attendance is a vital component to student success begins with being there on the first day.”

As you begin preparations for the start of the new school year, talk with your children about what to expect during those first few days of school.  Help them anticipate what awaits them, and help them remember all the opportunities a new school year offers:

  • Remind them that their classmates might be nervous to begin the school year just like them.
  • Encourage them to identify students who are new to their school and be a friendly face and helping hand.
  • Tell them their teachers are excited to meet them.
  • Help them look forward to spirit days, fun games at recess, and other events specific to their school site.
  • Remind them their old friends will be there and new friends, waiting to be discovered, will be too.
  • For older students, it might be helpful to route their school day according to their class schedule using a campus map, and then practice that route on campus prior to Aug. 16.
  • Help your student pick out a special outfit or hairstyle for the first day of school or a special snack to be included in their lunch box.
  • Communicate about specific routines that will impact their school days, including how and when they’ll be picked up from campus.

The day before he or she steps into their classroom help your student by:

  • Checking your school’s website for current bell schedules.
  • Verifying the proper start and end times for the school day.
  • Setting intentions or goals for the new school year.
  • Laying out clothes and packing backpacks the night before.
  • Ensuring students know who their teachers are or what their schedule will be.
  • Notifying teachers and counselors if your student feels anxious about going to school.
  • Reviewing the plan for the first day of school.

Schools provide a variety of support in order to ensure students are attending class regularly and ready to learn.

For more information, contact your child’s school site for resources. Getting a solid start on the first day of class will help make sure your children are ready to learn and excited for the great year ahead.

Melanie Corona is the public information officer for Gilroy Unified School District. This column originally appeared in Gilroy Life.

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