With the start of school of the new school year only days away, Texoma educators are encouraging parents to start getting their children ready to return to class. While this includes buying school supplies and new clothes, this also includes getting them focused and prepared for learning.
The Brookings Institution released the results of several studies on summer learning loss in 2017 that found that students’ achievement scores dropped at the beginning of a new school year compared to tests from the end of the previous school year. The studies showed that typically math skills are affected more than reading with some studies showing a loss of up to 30 percent of material from the previous year.
Here are some tips from educators with Sherman and Denison Independent School Districts on how to prepare students for the next school year.
1. Create a routine
This includes ensuring that students get to bed and wake up at a proper time said SISD Assistant Superintendent Tamy Smalskas.
A student should get anywhere from eight to 12 hours of sleep a night based on age she said.
Parents can also jump start the routine by setting aside time for learning that can be transitioned to time for homework once the school is in session. Other ways that parents can help set that routine is by setting specific places for items that will be used in the school year, including a homework station and a place for school bags and supplies.
DISD curriculum coordinator Toni Nunn said the transition to school sleeping patterns should start at least one week before classes, but can take longer for younger students.
2. Read through the summer and winter breaks
Smalskas also recommended that parents set aside at least 20 minutes a day for reading activities and learning. As a part of setting a routine, this time can come right before bed as a child is winding down for the day, she said.
“When a child reads for just 20 minutes a day, they hear a million words over one year, minimally,” she said.
3. Make school a positive experience
DISD Public Information Coordinator Brian Eaves said by speaking in positive terms about school, a parent can turn dread about the upcoming school year into excitement.
As an example, he said shopping for school supplies can become a family activity ahead of the school year that can build anticipation for the start of classes.
4. Make everyday activities learning opportunities
For younger students, that can be as simple as talking about the basic characteristics of items they encounter in their everyday life.
Nunn suggested that parents work lessons from the previous year into the preparations for the upcoming semester.
“Parents may not know what is coming up, but they can revisit things from the previous year,” she said.
5. Make sure everything is in place before the big day
In addition to mentally preparing students for the school year, Smalskas said the next few weeks are a good opportunity to ensure that other details are taken care of before class. This can include ensuring that a student is enrolled for the next year to checking to make sure shots and medical records are up to date.
Sherman students are slated to return to class on Aug. 14 while Denison students will return the next day on Aug. 15.