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RACINE, KENOSHA COUNTIES — To equip families with the knowledge to get back into the classroom without a hassle, our local teachers are offering their advice on how to have a school year that is nothing but smooth sailing.

Educators play an enormous role in the development of youth, everywhere. Teachers grow to know their students as if they are their own children.

When school lets out in the spring and summer break kicks into action, students are met with different routines, tasks and daily living circumstances than they are used to when school is in session.

Then as the school year circles back around, it’s an adjustment for children to get used to once again.

Here’s what educators have to say about starting up a new school year and how to continue making it a success throughout the year.

1. Partner with your child’s teacher

Children are not only under the care of their parents and guardians, but also their teachers throughout the school year.

“Parents are their child’s first teacher,” says Laurie Nikolic, educator at Gifford School. “Partner with school teachers to give children the best possible chance for success.

What local teachers want parents to know before the 2023-24 school year

Parents, educators and support staff should be a team. When all of these people root for their student’s success, teachers believe that partnership can help.

“Partner with me! Help me be the best I can for your kiddos by talking with me, working out expectations and goals, and checking in to make sure it’s going well,” says Former Alderman CJ Rouse and current Special Education Assistant.

On that note, another educator points out how letting educators into the lives of their students can help build a stronger relationship that fosters a successful atmosphere. The more the educator knows and understands, the better they can serve children and families.

“Let us know if something is going on at home so we can support them at school. Behaviors are all too often punished when the student really just needs more connections and support. Let us know their strengths, their interests so we can more quickly make connections with them,” says Billie Mojonnier, educator at Racine Unified School District. “We’re not just their teachers, we love them too. Not the same as you, but love nonetheless.”

2. Be present

Teaching doesn’t just happen in the classroom. It happens outside of the school too. As much as educators give during the school day and even at various extracurriculars, learning isn’t limited to the school day.

Being present, being involved and assisting educators with your child’s education leads to positive outcomes.

“Be present in your children’s life and education. The gap in education is a close relationship to parental involvement,” explains Jeffery Olsen, educator at Park High School.

Get involved by volunteering in the classroom, participating in projects, assisting with homework, and asking your child’s educator for more ways to get involved.

What local teachers want parents to know before the 2023-24 school year

“I want your child to be happy and successful as much as you do! My classroom is a safe space where we embrace uniqueness and celebrate successes,” says Sharon Thorsen, former local educator.

As much as educators are present in the classroom, the success of a student happens when the entire support system is present.

3. Communicate

No matter the age of the student, communication between educators and parents is essential.

At the start of the school year, a lot of information is relayed to students. Paperwork with signature requirements may be needed, along with ongoing updates throughout the year. It is important parents are staying in the know.

Check backpacks, folders, online portals such as virtual backpacks or emails that may be available or sent from the school.

Good communication between parents and educators can help lead to an environment free of misinformation, gossip or being behind the ball.

“Respond to our calls, emails, class dojos. We want to work together to help our kiddos be successful,” says Mojonnier.

Communicate with teachers when children are thriving, but also when they are struggling or experiencing trouble.

“Communicate with teachers; we get that sometimes life gets in the way of school,” says Nikolic.

The more eyes on a situation or ears that have heard a situation clearly can help resolve any problems.

“An email goes a long way. Don’t be afraid to reach out while a problem is small before it escalates,” explains educator Mariah Horn.

Contact information from your child’s school, teacher and support staff should be located at the start of the school year and kept secure throughout the year.

4. Read and learn with your child

As a parent, it is important to get the ball rolling for your child. This year, educators are stressing the importance of reading and its impact on a student’s education.

What local teachers want parents to know before the 2023-24 school year

“Read, read with your kid, read around your kid, ask them what they read, tell them about what you read,” explains Kimberly Gibson, a middle school educator at RUSD.

Gibson encourages parents to make reading fun. During summer break and throughout the school year, take trips to the library and tune into what content your child enjoys.

Becoming a strong reader translates to strengths in school that goes well beyond books.

5. Focus on routine

The summer season is different than the school year. When getting back into the swing of things for the school year, focus on practicing their nightly and morning routines.

“Good sleep the night before and try to get them to eat breakfast. Hangry and tired are not a good combo. And we are in your corner we both want what is best for the kiddos,” says Toni Hayden, special education assistant at RUSD.

Start the routines well before the first day of school to ensure stepping off on the right foot.

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