Fall Message

Fall Message from Heritage School Principal Mrs. Kathleen Pastore

Welcome Back to School

I sincerely hope that all the Heritage School families have taken some time this summer to truly revel in the wonder and excitement of being a child during the carefree days of this too short season. Whether your summer included exciting travel to far off lands, summer camps full of curiosity and hands-on engagement, or just good old-fashioned lazy days letting your imagination run free, summer is the opportune time to refresh, regroup, and reenergize for the next educational adventure in your child’s academic career. As you are thinking about preparing for a new school year, here are some back to school tools and tips that you won’t find at Target.

1. Make a concentrated effort to praise you child for working hard and persevering, not for being “smart.” Children who are continually told they are “smart,” often doubt their abilities if a task becomes too hard and are more likely to give up as they do not want to risk failure. When children are praised for the effort and hard work, they learn that they have the power to decide whether or not they will succeed at a task. These children feel that their success is in their control and therefore they are not discouraged by failure. They interpret failure merely as a signal to try harder or do things differently. These students will often take on more demanding tasks and work harder to develop new strategies. In short, these children tend to go at challenges eagerly, persevere when the going gets tough, and show resilience after failure.

2. Allocate an area of your child’s world that can be designated as his/her school corner/homework space. This may be in the living room, or in their bedroom, but should be an area where they can easily find all their necessary tools to complete their homework and organize their papers. Provide your child with a couple of shallow plastic bins to organize their space, and then let them to decide how they want to organize their things. Allow them to work through homework at their own pace. If they ask for assistance on a certain problem or question, talk it through with them. Ask questions like the following to help them make their learning visible:

  • What do you think might be the next step? Why does that make sense?
  • How can you be sure that this is your best answer?
  • Is there another way to solve this problem?
  • Did you work on problems like this at school today?
  • If you were the teacher, what do you think he/she would suggest as the next step?

3. Please do not do your child’s homework for them. No parent wants their child to struggle or fail. However, if we do their homework for them, they subliminally get the message that you do not have faith in their ability, and they miss a wonderful opportunity to work through a struggle on their way to success. If the homework proves to be too difficult, write your child’s teacher a short note.

4. Let your child make mistakes. We learn, grow, and form our sense of identity by how we handle our mistakes. Allowing your child to make a mistake or fail at a task, provides them a real chance to build real-life problem-solving skills. Experiencing failure provides all children an opportunity to see what power they have to move beyond that failure. Gatorade has a new ad campaign that encourages using defeat as a fuel and several famous athletes share their stories. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSLV3AjLiZk

5. Please contact your child’s teacher if you have any questions or concerns. Our teachers are deeply invested in your child’s success and often stay up nights worrying about them. Please don’t hesitate to check in with the teacher if you need clarification on an assignment or a question about something that transpired during the school day. Our teachers are professionals, and keep your child’s school life confidential. I respectfully request the same in return. Please refrain from posting a complaint or negative comment on line – the teacher should always be your first call or e-mail to clarify a concern.

6. As often as you can, be present for your child. We all have so much to accomplish in the course of the day, and it is often tempting to try to multi-task to get things done. However, research has shown that the human brain can only completely focus on one thing at a time. Share as many moments as you can with you child, fully and deeply. Have your first priority be your child, they will certainly benefit from knowing how special they are. Leave your phone in the car when you drop off or pick up your child, or when you first greet them at the end of the day. You will learn so much more about your child’s day when you can listen without distraction. They are only little for a short time, enjoy and embrace it.