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  • Writer's pictureBret & Amber Tueller

Evolution of a Student

Tips for Success & Survival at Every Stage of School

Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd

Now that your little one is a “Big Kid” they need to start doing big kid things! Teachers of little ones suggest parents help by making sure kiddos: know their full name, address, and mom/dad’s phone number; can write their name with a capital beginning and the rest lowercase; can tie their shoes or wear Velcro until they are able; can open their own lunch and snack; can put on and zip/snap their own jackets and backpacks.

For parents with children entering elementary, it may be hard to let your little one do more for themselves, but by giving them some control over some things it will allow them to learn/fail/succeed in a safe environment (home/ classroom). Being in charge of their learning is extremely important and that should be the end goal. Each year students should take on another piece of control in their learning. In today’s world, it is becoming increasingly important for students to advocate for themselves (mainly due to technology interaction with peers) and they should learn to advocate both for their learning and in social situations. A true gem in my book is setting a goal, for any age, to start the year. This can be started as early as kindergarten. If a child is struggling with behavior, setting a goal to have positive days at school can have great outcomes in the future.” – 2nd grade teacher

“Try your best. Work hard. Pay attention to your teacher. Kindergarten is so much fun. You get to learn in a fun way.” – 2nd grade student

3rd, 4th, and 5th

Make sure students have their multiplication and division facts memorized as they head into higher level math and problem solving. It makes a SIGNIFICANT difference! Foster a genuine love of reading. Encourage (don’t force) kids to read chapter books (no matter how short or silly). Take an interest in what your child is reading. Take them to the library or book store, read chapter books aloud to/with your kids, and model a love of reading as an adult.

My advice for parents is to: 1. Let go a little. A fourth grader has never died (that I know of) from forgetting a homework assignment or a lunchbox. Sure that pang in their hearts when they realize they forgot something is a shocker, but if kids are constantly saved from making even the tiniest of mistakes, they will grow up thinking they are no good unless they’re perfect. 2. Fourth grade teachers slowly push kids to do more themselves and take responsibility for their own learning. It’s the switch from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Encourage your child to think for themself, ask questions, and seek answers.” – 4th grade teacher

Be confident. You might mess up, but you can learn from your mistakes.” – 4th grader

Middle School

Middle school is an essential transition that allows students to create good study and time management habits, add to background knowledge and understanding, and continue to evolve and grow socially. Students start to have some choices about classes they take and begin to explore their interests. They also continue to learn about themselves and how they best learn and interact with peers and teachers. This growth will go a long way to prepare them for high school and beyond, as they continue to master these skills. This is also an ideal time for parents to practice a gradual release of responsibility to their students. As students move through middle school, parents should encourage students to take the lead and become independent in preparation for high school. Stay involved. Never stop asking about their day, their struggles, their successes, and how they are working towards their goals. It’s the everyday conversations and time that make the most enduring impact for kids.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t understand. If you need to clarify something or don’t understand; ask the question. It saves a lot of frustration and confusion. If you are too nervous to ask in class, hang back a few minutes after class to talk to the teacher. They’d rather you understand than leave not knowing what to do.” – 9th grader

High School

Organizational skills are key. Use an online calendar, an app, or a planner(like the ones used all through elementary and middle school) to stay organized and on top of deadlines. Don’t wait until the last minute to complete assignments. High school students are often busy with sports, clubs, jobs and other things, so finding a system that works and utilizing time management is imperative and sets you up for success after graduation. Be accountable for your work and advocate for yourself. In college or the workforce you will be expected to, so start now. It’s important for parents to stay involved, but it’s critical that students take the lead.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Go in and talk to your teachers, get the answers you need to understand. Everyone will tell you this, and it’s true, high school really does fly by, so enjoy each year, every assembly, sporting event, dance other special activities.” – 12th grader


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