ADULT WORKSHOP: Preparing Your Child for a Successful School Year

(Our adult workshop in August was presented by Denise Johnson, who has been a high school English teacher for the past five years. During those years, she has been involved in designing and implementing disciplinary initiatives for Title I schools and has helped to design the framework for West High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. Denise was adopted as a baby and has two biological siblings and four adopted siblings.)

This workshop shares practical ways to help your child(ren) have a successful school year. Most foster kids are behind in school due to the trauma they have experienced, and COVID-19 has compounded these issues. Try these simple strategies to help your teens become the best they can be.

25 Tips for Success:

1. Set up good sleep habits to help your family members feel less anxious and better rested.

2. Stop using technology at least 30 minutes before going to sleep.

3. Avoid caffeine or chocolate for several hours before bedtime.

4. Serve tea or warm milk to help everyone relax.

5. Spend the last 30 minutes of each day writing in a log journal.

6. Divide breakfast chores among family members so that everyone has time to eat a good breakfast.

7. Put breakfast bars in a bowl on the kitchen counter, keep frozen fruit ready for smoothies, and chill protein shakes in the fridge.

8. Buy and use a planner to help you keep track of topics covered in school and to review each child’s progress.

9. Look over course syllabi so that you understand what your child is studying.

10. Set clear, realistic expectations for habits, behavior, and growth (not grades).

11. Hold your child accountable.

12. When establishing expectations, make it a two-sided conversation and write down key points.

13. Kids typically disengage in school once they realize they are not doing well in a subject.

14. Set a goal to “get one more question correct” on the next homework assignment, quiz, or test.

15. Slowly move toward mastery.

16. Teens are experiencing more negative inputs than ever before, so be generous with affirmation.

17. Many students have the mindset that they can’t get better, so stress that they can improve with practice.

18. Do not require perfection or a specific grade, only that they do their best.

19. Be honest with your child.

20. Culture pushes that “differences are bad” and that kids need to conform because they are “not good enough.”

21. Teach your child to say: “I am constantly growing and improving. I might not get something right the first time, but I am a hard worker, and I will eventually get it. I am uniquely and wonderfully made, and my differences are my superpower.”

22. Be proactive.

23. Check in with your teen at least once a day, especially if he or she is a student.

24. Contact teachers early in the school year to establish relationships and provide details on the student’s background and struggles.

25. Be persistent; do what you need to do to get what your child needs.

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