Former National Teacher Of The Year’s Back-To-School Tips

Group of kindergarten kids friends drawing art class outdoors

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Kids across the country are heading back to school and both parents and educators want to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible. That’s true of any school year, but after two years of pandemic-related changes at schools, it’s on our minds even more this year. Juliana Urtubey, a special ed teacher in Las Vegas who was the Council of Chief State School Officers’ 2021 National Teacher of the Year, suggests ways for parents to help their kids feel supported as they return to school.

  • Co-write a letter with your child to the teacher - This educator says this is a good way for teachers to get to know students as well as a good way for students to introduce themselves to their teacher. Kids can talk about their favorite things, what they like best in school or what they’re excited about and parents can also share their concerns. “As a teacher, I loved getting these letters at the beginning of the year,” Urtubey said. “They made me feel like I already knew the child and I already had a first step in terms of building this kind of trust with families.”
  • Do activities that are both academic and of interest to your child - If your child shows interest in certain subjects, she says it’s good to push them to explore those more. So, if they’re interested in space, try taking them to the library to get books to read about space and that will further their interest and their reading skills.
  • Visit the school before the year starts - If your child is going to a new school, like kindergarten or middle school, set up a tour of the school so they can learn their way around before the first day so it’s not as stressful.
  • Help your child practice asking questions - Urtubey suggests practicing different conversations for different scenarios to help your student improve social skills to make new friends.
  • Encourage deeper conversations about school - Instead of the same old, “How was your day?” try asking your kid more open-ended questions like, “Tell me about a time you felt challenged today.” or “What did you feel really happy about today?” These are more likely to get them talking so you get a better idea of how they’re really feeling about school.

Source: Good Morning America

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