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Arlington Group Offers Advice to Parents for New School Year

by ARLnow.com September 4, 2012 at 10:45 am 3,841 16 Comments

In a recent study by the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families, only 24 percent of students said their parents were actively involved in helping them succeed in school.

With that in mind, APCYF has issued some advice for parents to help their kids “get off to a great start” as Arlington starts a new school year.

September is an exciting time for children, families and school staff. The Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families (APCYF) wants to remind everyone that it’s a great time to think about what families can do to get off to a positive start and help make this a successful, asset-building school year for your children. Assets are simply the positive experiences, relationships and values that help young people make smart choices and grow up ready to be responsible, healthy, successful community members. Learn more at http://www.search-institute.org.

Mary Ann Moran, Assets Liaison and founding member of APCYF, advises parents and caregivers that a good start to the year begins at home with the basics. All children and teens need good rest and a healthy breakfast. “Although you can’t make kids eat or sleep, you can create an environment and set boundaries that encourage getting enough sleep and healthy eating,” said Moran.

  • A healthy breakfast is vital. If you have a picky eater, get creative and offer choices. Any healthy food is good for breakfast – even pizza or PB&J.
  • On average, elementary school children need 10-11 hours of sleep. Teens need 8-9 hours. Setting a regular bed time helps.
  • No one can sleep with a cell phone under their pillow. Consider collecting all electronic devices at bedtime. Kids can retrieve them in the morning.
  • Try to plan time to avoid “scrambling-to-get-ready” syndrome – it’s a bad way to start anyone’s day.

According to a survey of 1,651 students in Arlington, only 24% of 8th to 10th graders report having parents involved in school. Get involved with your child’s education now and stay involved all the way through 12th grade. One way to participate is to have real conversations about school. “Do you have homework?’’ is not a conversation starter. Instead, parents might say:

  • Who did you eat lunch with?
  • Why did you choose that particular book for your report?
  • Tell me about your new teacher. (Instead of “Is your teacher nice?”)
  • Tell me about the kids in your class.
  • When I went into __ grade, I remember feeling _______.

If your child doesn’t want to talk when they get home from school or you first come home from work, try again later, said Moran.

Remind yourself that it’s your child who goes back to school, so their successes and their failures are their own. It’s hard, but let them learn from both. Children learn about being responsible and planning ahead by practice. At some point, they probably will forget their homework, let projects go to the last minute and leave books they need at school. But if they never experience consequences, there’s no motivation to learn to be responsible. Treat mistakes as learning opportunities to let children know you believe in them and their ability to deal with what happens, advised Moran.

Finally, let kids be kids. In our rush-around, stressed-out world, adults can help children have time to be silly, play and daydream, Moran said. It’s essential for them and it does wonders for us. For more information, visit http://arlingtonpartnershipforyouth.org/youthsurveyresults.htm.

Flickr pool photo by Divaknevil

  • PL25rd

    1) Since when is pizza a healthy breakfast, especially for an elementary school kid? Gross.
    2) The first line of the article implies that only 24% of all kids in Arlington think their parents are actively involved in school. You have to read about four paragraphs down to find out that the survey is for 8th-10th graders. Huge difference there!

  • DarkHeart

    Is Mary Ann Moran related to the congressman who almost clipped me Sunday morning while he was pulling out of his parking space in front of Mexicali Blues whilst lighting a cigarette in his silver Benz?

  • drax

    Pizza has all four food groups though!

  • Set the Controls

    Nachos and pizza are two well-balanced meals that kids like. Good ingredients count for a lot though.

    It rankles to hear (especially from teachers and school admin) about parents not actively participating in their kids’ educations, when parents are not allowed in their kids’ classrooms during school days (Campbell Elementary). A parent can volunteer, after a formal application process, but there is no assurance the parent will be assigned to his/her child’s classroom.

    • emanon

      Campbell no longer allows volunteers in the classroom? How odd. My daughter was there for 2 years and they certainly allowed it, and encouraged it, then (she was there in the 08-09 and 09-10 school years). No application process. Any explanation as to why they made it so difficult?

      • Set the Controls

        No, volunteers are still allowed. You need to apply though. A parent can’t just walk in and be a fly on the wall. Seems like there is a conscious effort to keep parents out of the building altogether, except for back-to-school night and EL showcase nights. I don’t like it.

  • Yes the 24% should state that it’s only for high school students surveyed! Younger children report much higher numbers for parents involved in school. Thanks for reading.
    Sally LaBonte, web coordinator
    Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families

  • South Awwlington

    24% involved in their success at school…110% involved in the transportation plan to get them there and where the “learning cottages” are placed. Pity these kids.

  • Parents need reminders for these basic things? Sad.

  • b

    meanwhile 76% of Arlington students have no concept of the outside world… pretty funny that only 24% think their parents are involved.

  • Seamore Butts

    Personally, I can see why parents aren’t involved. The Arlington Federation Civic Federation, a unified group of representatives from the local neighborhoods are just a group of rubber stampers of the Arlington County Board. They don’t conduct surveys to find out what the people of their neighborhoods would agree on. They just pretend as though they are representing neighborhoods and just submit recommendations to the school board and county board reflecting what the school board and county board want to happen anyway. Parents feel misrepresented and disconnected from what is implemented. I have been on two committees so I have heard dialogue on the issues they deem important and the civic federations don’t, in my opinion, seem to engage with the public. They just tell the boards what they want to here. All politics are local but one must shepherd their local Arlington representatives to do their job. We need a facebook page with issues by neighborhood that people can vote on with neighbors having to login individually. This would add credibility to the county’s outreach endeavors and give the civic federations something to accomplish instead of food drives, neighborhood yard sales, neighborhood clean up day, oh and pretend to solicit feedback from their neighborhood residents that provide something other than what the boards want to happen anyway, rubber stamping.

  • Ivan Ivanvich

    I just returned from my monthly meeting from Stalingrad to read this article. American adults are in denial of their own diets, so they can eat what they want. Mature adults eat right. Immature adults don’t and should feel a little embarrased by their infantile behavior. Particularly, when children emulate their diets. Americans are in dire need of humbling, not the financial kind but the kind that says, wake up and respect yourself! Reading a debate on whether pizza, nachos and the like are acceptable is ludicrous. You need to eat a bowl of hot soup to fuel your belly, water instead of juice and you will see that is all you need. You don’t need all those empty calories. You are just a spoiled adult who wants it, even to your own demise. Do yourself and your country a favor and break the cycle, raise healthy children and not a new generation of pouty adults that are laughed at around the World. Sad.

    • Pouty Adult


  • Yorktown

    How about a bus to get us to school? Takes one hell of a breakfast to prepare the kids for the 60 minute walk to First Period!

    • anon

      Ahhhh! First day after the first day of school. No reports of deaths by exhaustion or car accidents involving school children. Guess the complainers were just…..complaining…..

  • Lizzie

    My high schooler is so embarrassed when I involve myself in school that he pretends he doesn’t know me. I’m sure he would claim that I’m not involved in his school. I’m surprised that 24% actually admitted that.


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