How to help your children be enthusiastic about the new school year

It's important that you and your family be enthusiastic about how enjoyable it is to learn new facts, experience new truths and live life to the fullest with what you learn. The following is helpful in helping your children prepare for the school year:

  • Read together from books and magazines about subjects your children are interested in. Children's interests are varied and change with their growth and development.- Talk positively about attending school and what their schedules will be, what time they will need to go to bed to get proper rest, what they may want to take for lunch and what friends may be in their classrooms. Visit the school site before the first day of school; show them where they will catch the bus or their walking route or how you will drive them to school and when you will pick them up. Remind them of your "family rules," such as not accepting rides from strangers, talking to strangers or going to help a stranger find a "lost" kitten.
  • Buy school supplies for them depending on their ages and needs of the school. Let them help choose the colors and types of supplies. Have a special place set aside in your home for them to do their homework, and let them know this will be part of their daily responsibility just as you have daily responsibilities.
  • Get a copy, if you can, of the children's curriculum guidelines for the year. Read it over with them, letting them realize what an enjoyable grade this will be, such as, "You'll learn to write in cursive," or, "You'll find out about animal homes."
  • Take advantage of a special "get acquainted" meeting for parents and/or children. Be sure you attend and get to know your children's teachers. Let the teacher be aware of any special needs or apprehensions your children have about attending school. - Denise Evans, Cypress, Calif.

How we did it:

`Right foot'

As a school teacher and counselor, I have observed many children starting school. Getting off on the "right foot" is critical to their success. I recommend the following:

  • Prior to school, prepare your children psychologically by reinforcing the attitude that school can be exciting, positive and a very important and growing experience in their lives.
  • Before they begin school, start them into a regular school routine by getting them up for school time, reading and reviewing some of the things they learned the previous year.
  • Visit the school prior to its start. Have children become acquainted with the physical facilities, the classrooms, lockers, cafeteria, etc.
  • Become involved in your children's education. Actively support the school, and regularly monitor your children's progress.
  • Encourage children to smile, be outgoing and friendly and to keep gospel standards. - Paul B. Hatch, Phoenix, Ariz.

Sea of new faces

Beginning junior high school can be both exciting and traumatic for students and their parents. Leaving grade school friends who usually live in your home ward to a bigger campus and a sea of new faces can be scary, especially when new experiences and temptations accompany the change.

With our four children, we planned an afternoon summer swim and barbecue party. Enlisting the help of Primary/Young Women/Young Men leaders and mothers of new students in other wards going to the same junior high school, we made sure every LDS student entering in the fall was invited to attend. In the years that have passed I have heard many times how grateful those young people were that they had found a few safe and familiar faces in their new classes and at lunch. Parents can help their young teenagers to make the right kind of new friends even before school starts. - Michele Brooks, Santa Ana, Calif.

Meet the teacher

As a first-grade teacher, I feel there are many things parents can do to prepare children for a new school year:

  • Practice skills that will prepare for new learning experiences. Read together, write, and practice math skills.
  • Take your child shopping to choose new school supplies, bookbag and clothes.
  • Take your child to meet his or her new teacher. Many teachers are at school preparing their rooms.
  • Pray together for good experiences during the new school year. Give children the opportunity to receive a father's blessing or a blessing by a worthy priesthood holder. - Sheila W. Staley, Salt Lake City, Utah

Read to them

Make school a priority for your children and speak positively about school, teachers and what the children will be doing. Help your children be involved at school and get to know their teachers.

One of the things that you can do is read to your children every single day. Yes, you can have your children read to you, too, but one of the most important things is to read to your children. - Eldon and Joanne Morrell, Firth, Idaho

Be involved

As a sophomore in high school this year, I suggest for parents to get excited about school themselves and be involved in our - the children's - education. They need to understand what it's like to have homework and be frustrated so they know we have bad and good days. Sit down and look at our homework with us. I mean, don't do it for us, but go over it and explain how you - the parent - got through the tough assignments when you were our age. I loved it when my parents sat down with me and understood an assignment was tough and gave me some ideas how to do the assignment. At the beginning of the school year, find out what some assignments will be.

If there's a school orientation, go with your children. Don't let them go by themselves. - Andi Jones, Wakarusa, Ind.

Family projects

The question that I always had the most difficulty with when I was a kid was "What did you do this summer?" So when our children were young, we did the following to have something for them to report on:

  • Made terrariums in little fish bowls.
  • Did family history research. Our line includes descendants from the Pilgrims, so we took the kids to Plymouth Rock and to the replica of the Mayflower docked nearby.

Other things we did to prepare were the following:

  • Made dresses for my daughters. The fun part was going to get the material together.
  • Made color covers for the outsides of school books when we got them.
  • Embroidered names on pieces of material that we made into lunch bags.
  • Took the children with my husband and me - as we were both school teachers - to do the bulletin boards in our rooms. - Lois Butterfield, Vero Beach, Fla.

How to checklist:

1 Pray as family about school year; give father's blessings.

2 Make school a priority; monitor your children's progress.

3 Be involved in child's education; visit schools, teachers.

4 Be example of enthusiasm; talk positively about school.


Sept. 2 "How to find comfort after the death of a pet."

Sept. 9 "How to find positive direction, focus in your life."

Sept. 16 "How to overcome obstacles to meaningful Church activity as a new member."

Sept. 23 "How to forgive a child for the heartache caused by rebelliousness."

Sept. 30 "How to encourage participation in Church classes."

Oct. 14 "How to benefit from stake conference as an individual and/or as a family."

Oct. 21 "How to overcome discouragement while serving a full-time mission."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, or send fax to (801) 237-2121. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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