Gearing up to go back


Gearing up to go back

by: . | .
Stripes Japan | .
published: August 25, 2015

Students, this time of year newspapers and TV shows like to give parents tips about how to get you ready for school. It got us thinking, “what about the kids?” After all, you are the ones going back to school, right?

Check out these neat tips we found from experts as well as students just like you.


Organize your school supplies and pack your backpack the night before so you can find everything easily in the morning.

Pick what you will wear in advance. Pick something that looks good, is well-fitting and that leaves an impression without standing out. Make sure you know your school’s dress code, too.

Get some rest the night before. Go to bed earlier than usual and Wake up fifteen minutes earlier than you need to.

Take an extra dollar or two for emergencies.

If you ride a bus, bring a book or magazine to read on the way.

Write down important information, like your locker combination, usernames and passwords, and what time lunch is.

Say “hello” to kids you don’t know as well as those you do. It can help you make new friends.

Pay close attention to class rules and school rules. Know what is allowed and what is not.

Be engaged in the classroom. If you want to start off on the right foot, it’s far better to listen to your teachers, participate when they ask questions, take notes and avoid distractions.

– Source:,, Kiddie Academy


Try your best. Not everyone can get all A’s. But everyone can give it their all; and if you do that you’re doing well.

Get to class on time; be prepared – and don’t skip (you won’t be trying your best).

Treat others like you want to be treated – yeah, teachers too.

Don’t tick off the teacher – especially on the first day. It’s a bad way to start the school year.

Maintain a positive attitude throughout the year. It’s helpful to your friends and teachers, and it will help you finish all your work.

Stay organized. Lots of schoolwork can be frustrating; avoid stress by keeping everything organized. Use a separate binder for each class.

If you’re absent for a few days, make sure to get the work you missed. Your teacher is the best person to explain things and get you caught up – not your friends.

Stay away from the drama. Drama can take your focus away from schoolwork and you won’t understand what’s going on.

– Source: Teen students via Psychology Today


Try to get to know as much as you can about your school in advance so you feel more in control on that first day. Go on your school’s website and look around.

Make a game plan with your friends. Talk to them before school starts and find out if you can go to school together. If you’re new to the school district or don’t have many friends, don’t worry! You’re not alone and you’ll quickly make friends with a positive attitude.

Get a school map. Keep it in your backpack until you’re familiar with your new surroundings. Use it to create a good routine for passing between classes. It can help you not be late to class and to know the best time to go to your locker.

If you have different classrooms for each subject, write down where you sit for each of them in your notebook. It will help you remember.

Be friendly to all the new students. Do the best you can to be as nice and friendly to the new students in your classes as you can. Introduce yourself, ask them about themselves, and talk about what you think of middle school, so far.

Start to build positive relationships with your teachers. Make a good impression by being on time. Don’t make a bad first impression by laughing too much or chattering with your friends.

– Source:,, Kiddie Academy


Pay attention. Good studying starts in class when you pay attention and take good notes. Tell your teacher or parents if there is something – or someone – preventing you from doing paying attention.

Good notes = easier study. Write down facts that your teacher mentions or writes on the board during class. Use good handwriting so you can read them later. Keep your notes organized by subject.

Plan ahead. Don’t wait till Thursday night to study for Friday’s test. Write down test and assignment due dates on a cool calendar in your study area. Then plan how much to do after school each day. You can ask your parents to help you schedule around extracurricular and family activities.

Break it down. When there’s a lot to study, break things into chunks. For example, if you have 20 spelling words, break them down into five-word chunks and study one or two different chunks each night.

Break it up! Study regularly. Even if there’s no homework assignment, review your notes, read over chapters you’re working on in class or do practice problems. This will help make the next class or homework assignment easier.

Use mnemonic (say: new-MON-ik) devices to help you remember stuff. When you’re trying to memorize a list of things, make up a phrase that uses the first letter of each. Example: “My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos” is a way to remember the eight planets and their order from the sun – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Take a break. Most brains can only pay attention for about 45 minutes. So if you’ve been working for a while and it’s getting hard to pay attention, try taking a break for some water or a walk around the house. Just fight the temptation to turn on the TV or stop working!

– Source:

Parents, it’s that time of year again. You’ve no doubt already been gearing up for it (and, admit it, you’re looking a little forward to it, too). Here are some tips that we hope will help you get through the back-to-school transition.

We also hope they will guide you throughout a successful academic year.


Discuss any concerns you have over your child’s emotional or psychological development with your pediatrician. Your doctor can help determine if your concerns are normal, age-appropriate issues or require further assessment.

Review all material sent by the school such as important information about your child’s teacher, room number, school supplies, sign-ups for after-school sports and activities, school calendars, transportation, health forms, and volunteer opportunities.

Make a note of important dates, especially back-to-school nights. This is especially important if you have children in more than one school and need to juggle obligations.

Make copies of all your child’s health and emergency information for reference. Some health forms may be reusable for camps and other extracurricular activities.

Re-establish bedtime and mealtime routines (especially breakfast) at least 1 week before school starts.

Encourage children to play quiet games, do puzzles, flash cards, color, or read as early morning activities instead of watching television. This will help them ease into the learning process and school routine. Maintain this practice throughout the school year.

Visit new schools and/or teachers with children (especially if they are young). Meeting teachers, locating classrooms, lunchrooms, etc. will help ease anxieties and also allow children to ask questions. Call ahead to make sure the teachers will be available.

Establish homework/backpack areas. Older children should have the option of studying in their rooms. Younger children usually need an area set aside that facilitates adult supervision and encouragement. Explain that emptying backpacks nightly is part of their responsibility.

Freeze a few easy dinners. It will be much easier on you if you have dinner prepared so that meal preparation will not add to household tensions during the first week of school.

– Source: National Association of School Psychologists


Clear your schedule. If possible, postpone business trips, volunteer meetings and extra projects. You want to be free to help your child acclimate to the school routine.

Make lunches the night before school. Older children should help or make their own. Give them the option to buy lunch in school if they prefer and finances permit.

Set alarm clocks. Have school-age children set their own alarm clocks to get up in the morning. Praise them for prompt response to morning schedules.

Leave plenty of extra time. Make sure your child has plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast and get to school.

After school. Review with your children what to do if they get home after school and you’re not there. Be very specific, particularly with young children. Put a note card in their backpack with the name(s) and number(s) of a neighbor who is home during the day as well as a number where you can be reached.

Review your child’s schoolbooks. Talk about what your child will be learning during the year. Share your enthusiasm for the subjects and your confidence in your child’s ability to master the content.

Send a brief note to your child’s teacher. Let teachers know that you’re interested in getting regular feedback on how and what your child is doing in school.

Familiarize yourself with the other school professionals. Make an effort to find out who it is in the school or district that can be a resource for you and your child.

– Source: American Forces Press Service


Let them know you care: Send personal notes in the lunch box or book bag. Reinforce their ability to cope. Children absorb their parents’ anxiety, so model optimism and confidence. Let your child know that it is natural to be a little nervous at first.

Don’t overreacting: Young children in particular may experience separation anxiety or shyness initially but teachers are trained to help them adjust. If you drop them off, try not to linger. Reassure them that you love them, will think of them during the day, and will be back.

Remain calm/positive: Acknowledge anxiety over a bad experience the previous year. Children who had a difficult time academically may be more reluctant to return to school. Share your child’s concern with the school and confirm that the problem has been addressed. Reassure your child that the problem will not occur again and/or that you and the school are working on it together.

Reinforce coping skills: Give children strategies to manage a difficult situation on their own. But also encourage them to tell you or the teacher if problems persist. Maintain open lines of communication with the school.

Arrange play dates: Try to arrange get-togethers with some of your child’s classmates before school starts and during the first weeks of schools to help re-establish positive relationships.

Volunteer: If possible, volunteer in the classroom at least periodically. This helps your child understand that school and family life are linked and that you care about learning. Iyt is also a good way to develop a relationship with teachers and see the classroom environment.

– Source: National Association of School Psychologists


Go for quality, not quantity. Your child will benefit most from one or two activities that are fun, reinforce social development and teach new skills. Too much scheduled time can be stressful, especially for young children, and may make it harder to concentrate on schoolwork.

When evaluating activities, consider your family schedule and your own energy level. Multiple activities per child may be too much to manage, particularly if the activities have disparate locations, require your attendance, or disrupt the dinner hour.

Find out from the school or teacher which days will be heavy homework or test study days and schedule extracurricular activities accordingly.

If your child does not want to participate in regular, organized extracurricular activities, consider other options to help build interests and social skills such as library reading programs, recreation center drop-in activities or regular play dates with other children.

– Source: National Association of School Psychologists

Organizing for a successful school year

When the school year begins, students need to quickly get back into the swing of things. Staying organized from day one can ease the transition. Here are a few tried-and-true organization tricks that will work for most anyone:

  • Get Scheduled: Have a regular sleep schedule, morning routine and a household calendar or bulletin board in a central location to ensure everyone at home stays in the know.
  • Stomp out Clutter: Lockers and backpacks need to stay organized. Notebooks, binders and textbooks should be arranged according to day, subject, color or whatever works for you. Consider stackable shelves for your school locker.
  • For quick reminders and mementos, consider the Five Star Magnetic Mirror + Push Pin Board, magnetic whiteboard or post-it notes for your locker.
  • Set time aside weekly to clean out your locker and backpack.
  • Use a binder with pockets and dividers that can contain everything you need – traditional school supplies, paperwork, flash drives, calculators and other electronics.
  • Create a dedicated homework space at home away from televisions and other distractions. Make sure the area is comfortable, well-lit and conducive to great work.

– StatePoint

Tips for communicating with schools

Knowing who does what in your child’s school – and figuring out the best ways to communicate with school staff – can help you to be effective in supporting your child’s success.

Sometimes you’ll want to talk to the school to address problems or express concerns. A good rule of thumb is to start with the person closest to your concern. For instance, if your child does not seem to have homework, it makes sense to ask the teacher for an explanation. If you don’t get an adequate response, try contacting the principal.

Sometimes you may want to call someone at the school about a highly emotional issue, such as a conflict your child may be having with another child. As a general rule, avoid calling when angry. Remember that no matter how the situation may feel, school personnel do want to work with parents to resolve problems.

At the start of each school year, gather the information in the list below; keep it on hand so that when issues arise you can go straight to the right person. Some of the information below can be found on a school’s website; other details you can learn by contacting the school itself.

  • School telephone number and school secretary name
  • PTO president name, telephone number and email address
  • School newsletter frequency
  • Principal email address
  • School website URL
  • Teacher email addresses and voice mail telephone numbers, if available


Core standards: DODEA adops benchmarks for student success

College and Career Readiness involves adopting the same or similar standards as the Common Core State Standards. The CCSS were conceived by state governors, education experts, and business leaders in a joint effort to improve public education across the country.

Most of the current 44 member states and the District of Columbia began adopting CCSS around 2010. The CCSS currently only address mathematics and English language arts, however, the Next Generation Science Standards released in 2013 are largely compatible with CCSS and have been adopted by several states.

Standards are simply concrete descriptions of what a student should know and be able to do in a specific subject area at the completion of each grade level. Standards also play an important role in influencing the selection of curricula, materials and assessments. They help teachers in their lesson planning and allow parents to be more engaged in their children’s education.

Standards are not new to DODEA. In fact, we have been a standards-based school system for more than 15 years. What makes the transition to CCR standards so important for DODEA is the rigor and relevance they will provide our students during their journey toward advanced studies and the careers of tomorrow.

DOD schools have a long, proud legacy of producing graduates who go on to successful and productive lives. The CCR initiative simply builds on these strengths by advancing our teaching practices and raising learning expectations for our students.

The first visible signs of the multi-year CCR effort emerged in May 2015 as all preK-5 teachers and elementary school administrators across DODEA received training in the new preK-5 mathematics standards being implemented this fall. Professional development will continue through the 2017-18 school year when the preK-5 math standards will be implementated. New math standards for grades 6-12 will follow suit starting 2016-17 and continue through 2018-19.

Implementation of the new literacy standards will begin in 2016-17 for grades 6-12, and 2017-18 for grades preK-5.

During next school year, new curricula frameworks will be developed and aligned assessments will be purchased as part of the implementation plans for the new math and literacy standards. Currently, our content standards do not always match what is tested on assessments such as the TerraNova. This full alignment between standards and assessments will address that gap by giving a better and more consistent picture of how students are performing both individually, and relative to their peers across most states.

Eventually, more grade levels and subject areas may also be covered by new DODEA CCR standards, but unlike some past initiatives that really only met short-term needs, implementing the CCR standards will be a phased process with a special emphasis on providing both prior training and ongoing professional development.

In particular, instructional shifts in mathematics and literacy will be critical to unlocking the potential of the CCR standards as a whole. With our first-hand experience as a standards-based school system and the advantage of lessons learned from early adopters of CCSS, DODEA is well positioned for successful implementation of the CCR standards.

– By Charly Hoff, DODEA-Pacific

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