What Parents Need to Know This Back-to-School Season

California State PTA shares six key tips for all parents

Business Wire


Millions of children throughout California head back to school this month. Well-informed, engaged parents make a vital difference in helping students and schools succeed. When families, schools and communities work together, student achievement is boosted and children are better prepared to lead happy and productive lives. As the 2014-15 school year approaches, California State PTA shares six key tips parents need to know this back-to-school season.

  1. It starts with attendance. Children need to be in school to learn – it’s that simple. If children don’t show up for school every day, they miss out on developing fundamental skills. Data shows children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read proficiently at the end of third grade.
  2. Support learning at home. Parents are their children's first teachers and are key in creating a home environment that helps a child succeed. Families can help children develop good study habits by having a special place to do homework, setting a "regular time and place" to study. Parents can also ask questions about school activities. Ask "what are three new things you learned today?" rather than "how was school?" Provide children access to books, magazines and newspapers as well as art supplies either in your home or through a local library or community center. Also, limit access to TV, computer and video games.
  3. Understand the important link between health and student achievement. Active and well-nourished children have better attendance, stay in school and are ready to learn. Ensuring your child has a healthy breakfast and plenty of exercise is a great place to start. Oral and general health check-ups are also important.
  4. Establish a relationship with your child’s teacher. Establishing a relationship and open channels of communication with your child’s teacher is a must. Attending your school’s back-to-school night is one opportunity to meet and talk with your child’s teacher – but building a relationship should be year-round. Understand how information will be shared, how you can be informed about assignments and ask if the school has an online portal for checking grades. Your child's teacher can also tell you how much time he or she expects students to spend on homework.
  5. Learning in the classroom will look different with the implementation of Common Core State Standards. California is updating the way we prepare students for the future. We don’t know what tomorrow’s jobs will be, but we know that our future depends on a strong workforce in which critical thinking and problem-solving skills can be applied in any context. That’s the idea behind the Common Core State Standards; they are guidelines that will help schools focus on deeper, richer learning to prepare students for the 21st century workforce. As part of the transition to new standards, California will also implement a new testing system, called Smarter Balanced, which will evaluate student achievement in a more meaningful way by leveraging technology that tailors questions to responses.
  6. Get engaged: Your voice matters in school decision making. The new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) offer an historic opportunity to usher in a new era of greater parent and family engagement in our schools. Parents have a seat at the table when important decisions are being made at your child’s school and in the school district – and there are opportunities for you to have a voice and get engaged!

Read the full press release in English and Spanish. For more back-to-school tips for parents and information on the importance of family engagement, visit www.capta.org.

About California State PTA

California State PTA connects families and schools, and has more than 800,000 members throughout the state working on behalf of public schools, children and families, with the motto, "every child, one voice." The PTA is the nation's largest and highest profile volunteer association working to improve the education, health and welfare of all children and youth. The PTA also advocates at national, state and local levels for education and family issues. The PTA is nonprofit, nonsectarian and noncommercial. For more information: www.capta.org.

California State PTA
Patty Christiansen, 714-417-6832
VP for Communications
Michelle Eklund, 916-440-1985
Communications Manager
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