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Zachary and Brady Durban

First day of school for Zachary (left) and Brady Durban.

Whether you are dreading the end of summer or waiting for back-to-school with baited breath, kids will be back in the classroom before we know it. However you feel about it, a new school year brings with it a great opportunity to make a fresh start, both for students and parents. But as a parent, it can be hard to know how to make the most of that opportunity.

To find out, I went straight to the source – teachers. I asked them to offer advice to parents as we get ready for back to school. Here’s what they said:

• “Take the phone away past a certain time at night! I work with way too many middle schoolers who come exhausted because they were on their phone most of the night. And monitor your child’s phone! Drama that happens via phones follows kids to school too.”

• “Parents need to know we always have their best interests at heart. What their students come home and say happened/did not happen can be different from the truth, especially in grades 6-12. Always ask a teacher about things before jumping to conclusions.”

• “Start the bedtime and wake-up time routine a few days or a week early. Read every day all summer. Speak positively about school and the people there.”

• “Read, read, READ! It doesn't have to be "chapter books" or academic stuff. Find something high interest to show that reading isn't a chore and can be enjoyable ... science experiments, scripts, sports magazines, news, etc.”

• “DON'T use quiet reading time as punishment for unwanted behaviors. Refer to reading as fun and adventurous!”

• “If your child has an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) team, reach out to them to share new strengths/growth that could be included in your child's plan for the new year. Also share any benchmarks that have not been met over the summer months. Changes in family dynamics are also important to share, as this can have an effect on your child's behaviors and learning outcomes.”

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• “Make sure the kids are getting free time outside after school! The brain needs the fresh air, the creativity needs fresh inspiration sources, and the body needs to move move move!”

• “Trust and verify. Trust that your student is telling you the truth about their grades, assignments, upcoming tests, etc., but verify what they are telling you. A quick email doesn't bother me at all and takes about 2 minutes to respond to. Truthfully, please don't feel like reaching out to me is burdening me. I love what I do. I love watching your student grow, and learn, and figure out who they want to be. While your middle schooler is yearning for complete autonomy, they aren't 100 percent ready for it. Check their grades online, shoot their teachers a quick email, or call us on your way to work. We always have time for our students!”

• “Treat back to school like an exciting, positive thing. Kids (even teenagers) get many of their attitudes about school from their parents; if you hated school and let them know it, they'll think they're supposed to hate school too.”

Here’s to making this the best school year yet!

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