BY KATHY MCDONALD
Welcome back, greetings, howdy. As we return to school I can only hope it is armed with a rejuvenate self. A self that is eager to learn, if you are a student and a self that is ready to serve if you are an administrator or teacher and a self that is willing to partner with the school if you are a parent.
Students, I encourage you to get involved and try something new. Sometimes when we step out of our comfort zone we amaze ourselves. There is a great big world of possibilities just waiting. During this back to school season we are often bombarded with advertisements encouraging us to buy a lot of unnecessary stuff. That’s all they are: stuff. Let us not lose sight of what is important: an education. It is not about who has the coolest stuff or who is the most fashionable. School is about learning and exchanging ideas. Let us shift the focus on learning and let the fluff take a back seat.
I have already visited a large number of schools and I can say with authority that the administration, teachers and staff are ready. They have rested and are re-energized and excited to begin another dynamic and inspirational school year. The classrooms are clean and they are equipped for the students. At the PDSB we have worked steadfastly to have all new schools open on time. Please pack your patience if this is not your reality. If you constantly converse negatively about any circumstances you will ultimately transfer your anxieties onto your child.
Hopefully there has not been too much attrition over the holidays. Parents, it is not too late to initiate cutting back on screen time or creating an ideal study environment as well as beginning the rituals of a consistent bed time. I know it is still summer but children need their rest. A tired child makes a terrible student. Rest is important for the human brain. It is in these quiet down times that individuals are able to regenerate. Children just like adults will get grumpy, unreasonable or even irrational when tired: so send them to bed. Importance of a schedule and routine cannot be over emphasized. Parents, have an electronic garage in your room, i.e. a designated area where all school aged children should place their devices before going to sleep. You will be amazed at how many students are up late because they are on social media when you think they are sleeping. The same should be said for televisions, PSP, Wii; you name it, I would strongly encourage you to remove all such thingamajigs from all sleeping areas. Nutrition is also crucial to the growing and learning brain. Simply put “yuh cyaan wuk pon hungry belly” kids do not perform well on an empty stomach.
While parent engagement has proven to be the most important factor that determines a student’s academic success, the importance of a great study environment cannot be overlooked. In order for kids to excel they need an atmosphere that is conducive to learning both in and out the classroom. At the PDSB we take care of the classroom but at home parents are responsible to provide a learning setting. The areas allocated for homework or study should be first of all well-lit and free from distractions such as electronic games, phones and gadgets. If a device is needed for educational purposes it may be employed. I strongly suggest that computers are used in an area where parents can easily pop in to monitor their young children’s studying progression. All distractions should be kept to a minimum. So when students are studying parents resist the temptation to ask them to “reach this”.
Parents, come into the school and begin to have conversations with the staff and your child’s new teacher. It is never too early to initiate such steps in developing a relationship with the school. When one fosters a solid relationship with the school amazing things will happen for you and most importantly your child. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of showing the school that you are present and that you care about your child’s future and well-being. So once again welcome back. The administrators, staff and teachers are recharged and ready to serve. So come and journey with us for the 2016/17 academic year as we work together to let each child be the best that they can be. Walk Good. Belle Marché.