Chloe Babauta Pacific Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK
Published 10:21 PM EDT Aug 11, 2019
With the beginning of the school year coming up, it’s an important time for parents to prepare their children for the classroom. In addition to getting school supplies, families need to keep updated with their children’s schools, set up routines so their kids get adequate rest, and help students stay mentally stimulated — especially while kids are stuck inside during Guam’s rainy season.
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To help parents get their kids ready to go back to school, we’ve asked a few Guam Department of Education teachers for advice.
Parents can ask for help preparing children for the school year by reaching out to their teachers (especially home base teachers), said Victoria Rose Guiao, CHamoru teacher at VSA Benavente Middle School.
“Teachers love when parents email or call us regarding what they can do to help their child,” Guiao said.
For issues related to the school or general information, you can save time by reading online instead of calling the school office, Guiao advised. Guam Department of Education schools often have Facebook groups, social media pages, or a website. You can often find information on upcoming events and answers to frequently asked questions online, said Guiao.
“Show your child the website and have them see the schedule and FAQs so they can have an idea before they come to school on the first day,” she said.
Along with checking out information online, parents should join their kids at student orientation if they’re able, said Guiao. At orientation, students and parents can walk around campus, see where their classrooms are, and get a feel of the school before the first day, she said. This also gives parents the opportunity to ask questions and speak to administrators, staff and teachers.
As the school year continues, keep checking in at your child’s school and come to events as much as you can.
“Come to Parent Teacher Conference even if your child is doing well in class,” said Nichole Quintanilla, Guam History Teacher at Okkodo High School. “Teachers want to tell you how awesome we all know your kid is!”
Set routines for care
The first few weeks of middle school can be overwhelming and stressful for students, Guiao said. Educators use this time to teach procedures and protocols for inside and outside of the classroom, Guiao said. Absorbing so much new information can be exhausting, especially for sixth graders who are still adjusting to the transition between elementary and middle school.
“For incoming sixth graders, we understand that it might take a while to get used to reporting to six to seven different classes throughout the day and week,” Guiao said. “Imagine going to seven different classes where they have different expectations, procedures and rules.”
Parents can take care of their children during this transition period by making sure they get lots of rest, said Guiao.
You should also establish an after school routine for your child that includes free time to relax after a long day of learning, said Quintanilla.
Parents can talk to their children and set good examples on being responsible in school.
“Make sure they get used to a schedule and teach them the importance of going to class on time,” Guiao said. “Better yet, teach them the importance of going to any appointments, interviews, and parties on time. It will really stick with them in the long run.”
Parents should also teach their children to be responsible with their belongings, said Guiao.
“Students need to be more alert with their things and where they leave them,” she said. “We want to avoid things getting lost — or worse, stolen — especially on the first day.”
Supplies and uniforms
While parents may want to get an early start purchasing school supplies, some students won’t get their supply lists until classes begin. In middle and high school, each class may require different materials. For the first day, students should at least plan to bring in a pen or pencil, and paper in a folder, Guiao said.
For those having a difficult time finding affordable uniforms, Guiao offers some solutions:
Local thrift shops sell cheap and used uniforms.
GDOE schools usually have extra uniforms for students.
Schools also have programs that offer uniform vouchers for parents struggling with finances.
Homework for parents
Parents have some homework and responsibilities of their own during the back-to-school season.
At the start of the school year, teachers give students many forms for parents to sign, including media releases, technology and food waivers, medical forms, and so on.
“I know it can be frustrating that there are so many forms, but receiving these forms from you will help us tremendously and determine whether or not they are given consent to use the computers in the library, or allowed to publish their images or work,” said Guiao.
Parents also must turn in their children’s updated shot records, Tuberculosis clearance, and other required documents — before school starts.
Parents and students should keep wet weather in mind, since the beginning of the school year is during Guam’s rainy season.
If your child is walking home from school, pack a small umbrella in your child’s bag, said Quintanilla.
During typhoon season in the fall, schools are sometimes shut down when the weather gets too rough. You can help your kids by preparing some resources in case they have to stay home.
“Be sure to have educational books in the house to keep your children’s mind active while school is closed,” Quintanilla said. “Just because classes are cancelled doesn’t mean learning is!”
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