Get your child ready for the new school year

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It’s crunch time. At the start of every school year, everyone—and that’s all parents, school principals, and teachers—are busy grooming every child to get ready for school. They all work together to make the new school year an enjoyable, fulfilling and successful year for the child.

Parents have a lot on their plate and these tips from Saipan schools principals and teachers hope to ease the burden and give children a smooth transition back to school.

According to Sara Forti, a lower elementary teacher at Brilliant Star Montessori Saipan, parents should prepare children for school a few days before school actually starts.

“This is especially true for young kids. Put it on the calendar when school starts, so they know what to expect when the day comes and school begins… When young children know what to expect, and what is expected of them, they are able to be more successful. Simple [preparations] go a long way and [children] feel good about their new schedule,” she said.

“Include children in school shopping so they can be a part of the experience and get excited to use new materials in class. Teachers can also start getting together with students who will be in the classroom with them so they have someone they feel comfortable with throughout the long days,” she added.

Saipan Community School principal Amanda Allen Dunn said that getting the child familiar with a new daily routine is a start of a good habit.

“Set a routine of waking up at same time… Many students have spent much of the summer gaming and on tech devices such as tablets and phones… It’s best to start limiting the time on these devices to help wean them before school starts,” she said.

“Make sure to eat a good breakfast each morning before school and pack healthy snacks for them to eat and keep energized for the start of school. Get them a good water bottle they can use all year, and express the importance of being responsible for that water bottle and use it often to stay hydrated,” she added.

Marianas High School principal Cherlyn B. Cabrera encourages parents who have children who go to MHS to keep informed of school updates.

“Visit our school website, www.marianashighschool.com. We have lots of helpful information for logistics such as the school calendar, bell schedules, student meetings, contests, scholarship information, and much more. This is updated every school day and parents can stay informed with real-time information.  To see your child’s grade in real-time, sign up and visit our Plus Portal, https://www.plusportals.com/marianashighschool. Once parents have access, they can see real-time updates in grades as they are entered in the teacher’s grade book,” she said.

“Be an active part of our school community as parents are welcome to volunteer, attend PTA [parents teachers association] meetings, watch our numerous student performances, watch our sports games, attend our recognition events, and much more. Build and strengthen your relationship with your child because even though they are physically grown, they still need their parents’ guidance, wisdom, and encouragement. Kind words and a caring tone of voice means a lot to your children, especially teens,” she added.

Isla Montessori School elementary teacher Susan Book understands that the first day of a new school year can be full of emotions for a child and parents. “Often there is a combination of excitement and nervousness. The best way to set both parents and child up for success is to prepare ahead.

“Giving your child a visual of where they will be dropped off, where they will be spending their days, and meeting their teacher helps them to find comfort before the first day. During this visit, make sure you practice how you will say goodbye to your child and show them where they will be picked up because knowing what to expect eliminates fear and nervousness.

“Talking about the new schedule by creating a calendar and schedule at your child’s level helps them to take ownership of time management… Make sure you are not allowing children time on iPads, phones, or in front of the television before school. Even better, no television during the school week because this allows them to focus and be successful learners. In my family we have a rule: no screen time until you build something, read a book for 20 minutes, do a chore, or play outside, and during the week only a documentary or educational show,” she added

Dr. Rizalina Liwag, school principal at Adm. Herbert G. Hopwood Middle School, said that parents should make sure that the child is registered in the school that they will attend. At Hopwood, it is very important that parents visit the registrar’s office before Aug. 15, 2018, to make sure that the child is enrolled. Parents have to make sure that their children have Hopwood school uniforms… students need to bring and wear their I.D.’s so they can access the cafeteria and library.

“Our students have free breakfast and free lunch so all students can eat at the cafeteria for free without pulling out any money. We encourage every student to eat breakfast and lunch at the school cafeteria,” she said.

Hopwood Middle School School vice principal Victorino Borja highlighted the importance of having basic school supplies. “We have a list for the school year: composition notebooks, pens and pencils, a pair of scissors, a pack of crayons, glue stick, pocket folders and an extra shirt for P.E.”

Sam Crawford, academic librarian and acting director of Library Programs and Services at the Northern Marianas College, said that having a conversation between the parent and the child is vital. “Have conversations with your child about both the previous and the upcoming school year: What did they enjoy doing or learning about most?  Why?  What was difficult or challenging for them at school last year?  What changes do they want to make in order to make school a better, more rewarding experience for them?  What are they looking forward to this year?” 

“If the student is preparing to graduate from high school soon, are they considering college/university? Trade or vocational school? Armed services? Workforce? Get to know your children and try to support who they are as well as their interests in as many ways as possible,” he added.

Crawford also encourages parents to read with their children. “Read to them, or have them read to you and let them see you reading.  You have the natural power to inspire and engage your children through tactile, off-screen reading materials,” he said.

“Visit libraries often, let your children explore and read the books of their choosing. …The Joeten-Kiyu Public Library, for one, has a really cool MotherRead/FatherRead program,” he added.

Bea Cabrera
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.

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