Start the School Year with an A Plus

Successful school year
Successful school year
Readers are leaders

If you’re a parent of child still attending school then I know you can’t wait for school to start. If you’re in Miami, tomorrow is your day! Let’s make sure that your child is going to have a successful school year because as a teacher, I might have your student in my classroom. So we really need to work together for the sake of your child and my sanity.

First, have you done everything to get ready to have a successful school year from day one?

Basics for a successful school year

Purchasing school supplies and uniforms is usually at the top of the list. But in Miami Dade County Public Schools, there is something else that many parents should use but either don’t know about or don’t bother to use. Parent portal at .  As a parent, you can login and see your child’s schedule, grades and test scores.  Go to the school’s office to find out how to login if you need help. Most students ages 12 and up know how to login.

Every year I am baffled when parents want to talk to me just to find out how their child is academically doing throughout the school year.  Why ask me? Everything is online. Everything!

So now it’s a matter of making sure that your little baby maintains the best possible grades. Some people think a C is ok. It’s not Ok for me but it’s not my baby. Other parents can’t even fathom a C on their child’s report card. That’s fine. What you consider acceptable is your opinion but if you see a D or an F then please take that as a huge warning that your child might not pass the class. Don’t wait until the end of the year and ask the teacher what little Bobby can do to pass the class.

What’s a parent to do to make sure that the grades are acceptable and consistent throughout the school year?

This is my suggestion if you have a child who tends to see school grades like a roller coaster ride.  You should check their grades every day at the beginning of the first 9 weeks. It’s available online. It doesn’t take more than five minutes to login and see if little Bobby did well today. When your child wants to go out and play or hang with his friends, go check the grades with your child next to you. Take this opportunity to discuss his progress. If he’s doing great, you praise him. If he’s not doing great, find out what you can do to help him.

I’ve given this advice to parents who have children in middle school and want to go out during the weekend.  They look at the grades Friday after school and based on the grades during that week, they decide if the child can have a privilege of going out with friends. Some parents don’t let them go out until all the subject areas have improved.

Viewing your child’s grades on a regular and consistent basis is a fantastic way to ensure a successful school year.

Some children will give excuses for having poor grades. Don’t allow excuses. A zero for homework means little Bobby didn’t care to do his homework. He says he forgot. He doesn’t care enough to write it down. Excuses aren’t part of a successful school year.

School is a job. Grades become the paycheck. Why reward someone for doing nothing? That’s another thing that baffles me every school year. Parents buy their child everything and the child refuses to work. You’re setting your precious baby for failure. In the real world, people work to get paid. No work, no money.

Which brings me to another touchy subject, late work. Yes! It’s a touchy subject because this is usually where teachers notice that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  As a teacher, I notice that those students who think they can turn in work late have parents who also think turning work late is acceptable. It’s not!

Think of it this way: would you pay your electricity bill late? I don’t think so! You will be left in the dark! That’s exactly how your child will feel when the students who did do their homework are ready to move on with the learning process and little Bobby is clueless.

As teacher, my job is to teach your child during the school hours. Once they go home, it’s your job to make sure that they do their homework even if it means to study for a test or read or research.  It’s important to keep an agenda to write down all of their assignments.  Important! It’s his responsibility not yours or mine to write down his homework and look at it when he gets home.

If your child is always saying that there is no homework, check online. You can also email the teachers. But check online first. And before you email the teacher, let your child know that you are going to email the teacher.

Communication is necessary for a successful school year.

Your child needs to know that you love her/him.  Of course, we know it but does your child know it? How much quality time do you spend with your child? Put away the smart phones, tablets, tv, and other distractions.  Spend time participating in activities that allow you to talk to each other. Watching a movie doesn’t cut it! It’s 3 hours of no talking. The idea is to talk.  Dinner is a great time to talk but many of my students tell me that they don’t eat with the family. This is important. Make the time.  There’s a saying, “The family that eats together, stays together.”

Once there is an open line of communication, your child’s school year will be a success.

But let’s get real for a moment. No child is perfect. So make sure that you have “The Talk.” Not the birds and the bees, although you should do that too, if you haven’t already. But the other “Talk.” It starts like this:

Honey, I love you very much and I will always be by your side no matter what. Trust is important. I trust you to tell me the truth at all times. No matter what.

Ok, once that has been established. There is probably going to be little need to email the teacher for verification purposes BUT if your gut tells you to contact the teacher, do it! Let your child know that you are going to do it and if there is anything you need to know, now is the time. If you do that, follow through. Don’t put off the email.

 Pssst! I’m in your home throughout the school year.

As a teacher, I will tell you that I know what goes on in your home.  Your child is more than willing to share your secrets. Sometimes, your child will share it with the entire class. I’m not telling you this to scare you. I’m telling you this to let you know that you are your child’s most important role model.  You know the saying, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Well guess who’s the monkey in your home?

Your home is your child’s haven. If you live a life like those in soap operas, you can’t expect your child’s education to not be impacted.

Consider this school year as a year of change for everyone.

Form good habits for yourself. Go out for a walk with your children, ride bikes, play games but make sure you balance it with common sense punishment when they don’t do their part.

I will continue to be dropping more advice throughout the school year.

I just want you to know something really important. Teachers get lousy salaries.  Miami Dade County Public Schools have put more money into machines than into humans. We work hard to make sure that your child receives the best education. It’s not because we get paid so well. It’s because we care.

As for me, I have one other reason. I realize that one day they will grow up and get jobs in areas that impact all of us. I want to make sure that they are skilled and educated enough to handle that responsibility.

Together we can all have a successful school year.

If you’re a teacher, what tips can you offer parents?

If you’re a parent, what are some of your concerns? I might be able to help you.

If you’re a student, what can we do to make sure that you are prepared for the future?





  • Bruce Sallan

    Nathasha, some parents remember when schools took care of most everything. Now, parent involvement is REQUIRED at the elementary level and then no more thereafter. So many things that schools provided are now the province of parents, such as Driver’s Ed. IMO, it’s just more complicated “educating” our kids these days and then UN-educating them from some values taught at schools and especially the politics espoused at many colleges and universities.

    • nathashaalvarez

      Hmm..I’m processing your information. How much parent involvement is required at the elementary level? My friend has a son who attended a private high school and she said it was like organized crime. She had to do x amount of hours and give x amount of money every quarter. Is that what you are seeing in the public sector?
      I prefer to have Driver’s Ed in school. Many parents don’t take the time to show the teen driver how to drive defensively. Do you prefer the school do more or less? The part that has me really scratching my head is the un educating part. What is it that you want the students to be un educated on that you feel the schools are doing wrong?

      • Bruce Sallan

        I believe there is WAY TOO MUCH propaganda in our schools – too much politicking and too much of an agenda. I just heard that the AP History exam has been made MORE politically correct. HELLO? Our history is OUR HISTORY. Sorry, a lot of white Christian men founded this country. And, yes we had slavery too and fought a bloody Civil War to end it.

        Un-educated means to un-propagandize our kids. My kids were told who they should vote for – if they could vote – in all our recent elections by their teachers!

        • nathashaalvarez

          Did you talk to the teacher about this? That’s so wrong. I play devil’s advocate and discuss both sides of the issues and have them make a list of pros and cons. As Americans, we have done our share of wrong doings and yet, we still tend to appear better than other countries. It’s a shame when people distort the facts. But it’s also a shame when we don’t admit what we have done wrong. My students ask me about the way we treated the Native American Indians. I tell them to research it and once they have it, we pull out fact from opinion. Mind you, I don’t teach history. I teach Language Arts aka English class but I think it’s important to teach them critical thinking skills. Let them come to a conclusion. Let them come to a resolution. Let them think on their own. That’s the way to continue to build a strong country. What was the worst piece of propaganda your kids had to learn?

          • Bruce Sallan

            I wrote a column and spoke to the local newspaper. Got a call EARLY the morning it was published from the school principal. He apologized profusely…but the problem persists! The worse propaganda? Democratic views exclusively AND the nonsense of Global Warming as if it’s clear including the constant showing of that STUPID movie of Al Gore’s that makes a mockery of science and started the whole foolish nonsense NOW called “Climate Change” since ANYTHING can be called that! Grrr….

          • nathashaalvarez

            You don’t believe in Global Warming or Climate Change? I’m not saying to believe in what Al Gore said but you don’t believe in the changes that have occurred around the world with regard to the ecosystem?

          • Bruce Sallan

            Of course I believe in “climate change” – it’s ALWAYS changed but the scare tactics of the politics of this environmentalist movement is DESTRUCTIVE and hurting much more than helping. The climate ALWAYS has and ALWAYS will change. How much WE effect it is still VERY unclear regardless of what Gore OR the POTUS says – many scientists are cowed quiet for fear of reprisal if they don’t agree with the prevailing “wind” of this movement …

          • nathashaalvarez

            Ok. I would think it would help because it makes us recycle and reuse and think of the ecology and the way we abuse our natural resources. Honestly, I am not that informed but I really think that our natural resources are being destroyed by man and our ecosystem is suffering from it. Do you see it differently?

          • Bruce Sallan

            Recycling is a great thing but LYING to get people to do things is a BAD thing…let’s end this dialogue only because it’s too complicated for a comment exchange. Just do some research on the other point of view for your student’s sake…and do NOT show them that horrid film of Gore’s EVER!

          • nathashaalvarez

            Bruce, that’s hilarious. I won’t show them Gore’s film. But when I start teaching argumentative writing this will be one of the topics from which they can choose to research. Sounds fair? 🙂

          • Bruce Sallan

            @nathashaalvarez:disqus – absolutely!

  • Annessa

    This is excellent advice for all K-12 parents! I am going to share this article with the teachers at the school I just retired from. I hope that’s okay. 🙂

    • Nathasha Alvarez

      Sounds great to me. My motto is sharing is caring.

    • nathashaalvarez

      Share is caring! 🙂 Share away. 🙂

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