Family First: Back to School Basics

Posted: Friday, August 28, 2009 --- 4:15 a.m.

So who in your family is more nervous or anxious about the back-to-school pressures and things to do list? You or the kids?

Especially those of you who have students entering "firsts"... kindergarten, middle school and high school.

We spoke with one of the central experts in this department in the Madison School District, who named some of the most crucial yet basic concepts that parents need to keep in mind.

Julie Koenke works with the district through a federal grant that helps with communication.

She helped run a pilot program this summer, preparing kids going from 8th to 9th grade for "the big move."

" Walking students through schools to get them comfortable with the environment, helping them learn basic study skills, helping them organize themselves, what the resources are available to them "

Those students will be tracked over the years to see if that program should be implemented district wide.

Julie also said the most simple things are what parents and their children should focus on, staying organized, making sure they're involved with extra curricular activities and then realizing that the academics can really matter for life, starting in 8th grade.

"Participation from parents is incredibly important. We want kids to be receiving the same message at home that they are at school... and vice versa. The only way to do that is strong communication between a parent and a teacher and a student. "

And, Julie says, parents should always feel comfortable going to their child's teacher first, getting that contact information in the beginning of the year, she says, is always a good way to start.

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