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Part I: How to Get Students Off to a Great Start This Year

Tips from Attleboro educators on how to get your kids off to a great start this school year.

The best-prepared and most successful student is alert, organized and independent. He or she eats a balanced diet, sticks to schedules and talks about school at home. The student is not anxious or stressed and their parents are supportive of them and education. And, according to research, the most successful student is one who reads daily at home.

“Be sure to attend the school’s fall Open House,”  said Ellen Rivera, a fifth-grade math teacher at “You will have a chance to meet your child’s teachers and learn about your child’s schedule, curriculum and routines. Attending Open House is a must for all parents.”

Bedtime Schedule

For the younger students, Kathy Schlect, Attleboro school counselor suggests, “Start students’ preparation for the routine of school early," she said. "Begin changing the bedtime and waking time earlier, so it is not such a shock. This is important for students of all levels.”

Dawn Greening, also a teacher at Brennan Middle School had a few tips of her own on sleep.“Make sure your child has a good night’s sleep before the first day," she said. "The school bedtime routine is extremely beneficial for a smooth transition from summer to school."

Greening suggests parents start the new bed time for students and waking routine a week before the start of school.

Eliminate the noise; Encourage Reading

Brennan Middle School teacher, Maureen Perkoski suggested parents encourage reading instead of television.  “It is extremely important that students are not going to bed with the television on," she said. "If the student’s bedtime is 8 p.m., then that child should start going to bed at 7:30 p.m. with a book, not the television!”

Perkoski points to research, which demonstrates the constant flashes of light and random sounds soft to loud, loud to soft is too stimulating for the child just before bed time.

“In addition, my best tip to ensure student success in school is reading," Perkoski said. "Depending on the child’s age, reading might take the form of reading to the child, reading with the child or independent reading by the child.

"Research continues to correlate student success in school with the amount of reading the student does at home," she added. "Students should be reading at home daily and the perfect time to read is just before bed!”

Independence and Nutrition

With each grade your child progresses through, your child should be becoming noticeably more and more independent. Depending on the students’ age, he or she should be transitioning to doing more and more of what the parent has previously done for them.

For example, Perkoski suggests having an alarm clock, which the child sets him or herself to get up in the morning, rather than having a parent wake the child. Students should be transitioning to setting out their own clothes the night before school and packing their own lunch, maybe one or two days a week. The student should, depending on their age, pack his or her own nutritious daily snack again, the night before.

“Please don’t send your child to school with a junk food snack like cheese puffs or cupcakes," Perkoski said.

Katherine Hebert, retired English teacher and department head at recommends good nutrition for student academic success. “Provide your child with a good breakfast including cereal, toast or fruit and a solid source of protein like peanut butter, yogurt or cheese.”

“It’s amazing how many AHS students get a sugary drink from Dunkin’ Donuts and a muffin, then they can barely make it to lunch because they have overdone carbs," Hebert said. “Sleepy or hungry students don’t learn as well as those who have had a balanced breakfast. Same goes for lunch.”

Tina Garfinkel August 16, 2011 at 12:47 AM
Great advice Missy (and all the Attleboro educators) - thank you!! Looking forward to Part II :-)
Kathleen (Penkala) Masse August 16, 2011 at 02:59 AM
Nice to hear from "Miss Campbell" and "Mrs. Perkoski"! I am a former student at Bliss and Hyman Fine and my girls are now at Hyman Fine and Wamsutta. They were lucky enough to have Mr. Riley before "retirement". Thank you for your continuing dedication.
Melissa Riley August 16, 2011 at 11:46 AM
TY Tina! There are actually 2 more articles! Part 2 of this one and next week "What to Expect on the First Day". Hi Kathy! It's been a long time since I have heard anyone call me Miss Campbell!! LOL! TY it's nice to be remembered! And funny that Bill had so many kids of former students! TY, too for commenting! :)

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