Tag Archives: parent contract

Back to School Activities

Back to school activities come in many varieties depending on the age of the children or teens going back to school, the type of school the children will be attending, the teacher, and many other factors. In this post we would like to take a look at some of the types of back to school activities that can make the transition from summer back to a school schedule more fun and less stressful. Back to school time is always a time of great excitement, but can also be a time of fear and anxiety for many children. What if I don’t like my teacher? What if my friends aren’t in my class? What if I get lost? What if I can’t do the work? These are just a few of the questions that have been flying around my house as we prepare for back to school.

Back to school activities can include back to school shopping for new clothes or school uniforms, taking one child at a time and making this a special time between a parent and child can make the experience go a lot better. If appropriate, talk with your child before hand about what items the child will need, how much money can be spent, and a plan on where the shopping will take place. If you or your child have a favorite store, watch the ads for a few weeks before school starts and pick a time when some of the more expensive items the child will need are on sale. Make sure you are both rested and have had a good meal before starting the back to school shopping. This back to school activity can be especially exhausting, but the more prepared both parties are the better it should go.

To ease some of the worries a child may have about getting lost, meeting a new teacher, finding out who is in the child’s class or other similar fears, check with your child’s school to see if they have an open house or back to school night before school starts. This can be a fun back to school activity for both the parent and the child as you will both have the opportunity to get to know the child’s teacher, learn more about the school campus, and possibly meet a couple of classmates before school even starts. Just knowing where he/she needs to go and one or two people the child can expect to see on their first day back to school can be a great stress reliever.

There are several simple back to school activities that can make going back to school more fun for a child. Prepare a favorite meal the night before school starts, have your child pick out his/her favorite new school clothes and lay them out before bed. Go through the students school supplies together and label them with the child’s name. Help your child prepare a small back to school “gift” for his/her teacher. If the teacher has a “wish list” of classroom supplies that will be needed the gift could include some of these supplies as well as an item the child picks out for the teacher. Older children may be able to help younger children by talking about some of the back to school activities they have experienced in previous years that they especially enjoyed. Focusing on the good and positive aspects of going back to school will hep calm nerves and prepare students for the first few hectic days of getting back to school and a regular school routine.  

Keep in mind that the first few days of school are often packed with information and back to school activities that can be overwhelming even for older students. If possible have things in order around the home before school starts so that there is not a lot of extra stress and chores required of the student in the evenings. At the end of the first week you may want to consider a back to school activity to celebrate, a dinner where children can tell about some of the best, and most frustrating, times they had during their first few days back to school. Just as important as preparing for the return to school and participating in fun back to school activities, is creating a routine that will keep both parent and child focused on a successful year. Having a routine for when and where each child will do homework, chores, and have free time can help eliminate a lot of daily bickering about whether or not the child’s homework is done, whether or not he/she can go play, etc. Creating a parent contract detailing the agreement can be very helpful in sticking to the plan.

Whatever back to school activities you plan be sure to do them with love and concern for the student. As a parent with many day to day stresses we sometimes forget how hard a new school year can be. To children this is a very major change that they are going through and they need all the love and support they can get. Being involved and showing them how much you care will help them to know that everything will be okay!

The Homework Debate

Homework Facts:

  • In 2004 the University of Michigan did a study and found that there had been a 51% increase in the amount of homework that students were receiving.
  • In 1981, students ages 6 to 8 were doing about 52 minutes of homework per night. In 1997 this had increased to 128 minutes per night.
  • Studies have found that while some homework does cause standardized testing scores to rise, if students in high school are doing more than two hours of homework per night the scores lowered. For middle school student test scores dropped if they were doing more than 60 to 90 minutes of homework.
  • Countries that outshine the U.S. in education typically assign less homework.
Homework opinions:
  • Some educators feels that we assign children more homework because we are crazed with standardized test results. It has been said “it isn’t about knowledge, it’s about winning”.
  • Parents have stated that a student’s interest in learning overall fades when homework is so time consuming.
  • One parent makes the point that what goes on in schools should set an example to the students. If there is so much homework, doesn’t this give the student the example of poor time management by the schools? How is it that they can’t get the work done with all of the hours they have our children?
  • One private school that does not promote a lot of homework finds that their students are excited about taking projects home to their parents, enjoy playing music with friends after school, get involved in other great activities and in general are not “at risk”.
  • Educators who are pro-homework have declared that homework sends the message to parents that the schools “mean business”. They believe that homework fosters critical thinking, persistence and diligence when looked at over time.
  • Parents and educators tend to agree that in younger years there is little academic value to homework.
  • An educator pointed out at a forum at Harvard recently that a teacher never knows who is doing the homework when it is sent home. There are those parents who do it for a child or hover over the student and don’t let them really learn.
One thing is consistent and that is that this is an ongoing debate with heated opinions on both sides of the fence. There are those that want to abolish homework altogether and there are those that believe it is a precursor for real life and teach valuable skills to students.
Parents in general find homework to be a full time job. While they may enjoy having the time with their students they may wish that they had more options of how to spend such time. Homework tends to become a full time job just for the parent and in many homes causes great contention between parent and child. Perhaps if this is the case a parent contract could be used to help set standards in the home.