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Back-to-School Advice From Your Principal

Summer vacation is coming to a close over the next few weeks and I wanted to reach out and share some information and a bit of advice on how to prepare your child(ren) and the rest of the family for the upcoming school year. I hope you find this information helps to reduce any anxiety and provides you with some strategies for an awesome year at Merryhill School!

  1. Establish Routines: Start now establishing routines that will help prepare your child(ren) for a smooth start to the new year.
  • Bedtime- The most important of all routines happens at bedtime. Two weeks before school starts (this week) set an earlier bedtime and create a routine for your child that will remain the same during the school year. Turn off all television and electronic devices an hour before bedtime to make time for reading and preparing for the next morning. Setting out clothes, packing backpack and making lunches the night before will save time in the morning.
  • Morning time – This is often the most stressful part of a child’s day. Good preparation the night before will help. Give yourself and your child(ren) 10 extra minutes to get ready minimize the morning rus. I know the temptation is to sleep a few extra minutes but that rarely makes up for a stressful morning. Create a morning list for your child to follow so they understand what is expected of them and in what order. If they are very young, use pictures so they can follow along.
  • Homework- If students are in aftercare they will complete the bulk of their homework during this time but not all of it. If students are being picked up directly afterschool, starting with a snack and then beginning on homework before dinner is recommended. Please have your child show you their completed homework and then have them put it directly into their folder and backpack. They will need to do their reading time with a parent in the evenings. Right before bed is a nice time for this. Periodically they will be studying for tests or memorizing presentations. This will be in addition to their normal homework and a good time for you to help and remind them.
  • Dinnertime- Studies show that spending time together eating a meal as a family is associated with higher academic performance, healthier eating habits and higher self-esteem. This is a good time to work on table manners, taking turns talking about your day, both parents and children, and just connecting with one another.
  • Travel time – use this time wisely. If you are commuting 20 minutes each day, that’s time to talk with your child about their day. Help them visualize what to expect and remind them of what they need to do. For example, today you’re going to recite your sight word list that we practiced yesterday and remember to raise your hand so the teacher will know to call on you.
  1. Develop study habits- Studying skills and habits do not come naturally. Help your child by giving them time, space and support but don’t take the lead on studying. For example, suggest your child sits at the kitchen table and practices their math facts or sight words while dinner is being prepared. A 15 min. study session 3 times a week is very effective and doesn’t lead to burnout. Give suggestions and offer to quiz them or be the audience for them to practice their material for a presentation.
  2. Help them organize- Typically the child who is organized and prepared has greater success in school. You don’t want your child to be the one who completes their work but can’t find it to turn it in. Some people are naturally more organized than others but this is a skill that can be learned. Note books, check-off lists, color-coding and regular cleaning of backpacks all help to keep children organized and more in control of their learning.

Finally, reassure them that all mistakes are part of learning. Sometimes you have to break routine and just have fun! Be a good example of this yourself and relax, this is going to be an AWESOME year for your child(ren)!


Joan Sousae

Principal Merryhill School-San Jose


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