Dear parents and guardians, I am so excited to welcome you to our Parent Power newsletter. We're thrilled that you’re interested in learning more from our dedicated team at EBR Schools and can’t wait to start sharing with you.
Inside this Issue
As the summer comes to a close and school is getting back into session, here are a couple quick reminders to help make the transition from the beach to the classroom easier for you and your child.
Validation: Let your child know that his nervous or apprehensive feelings about the start of school are normal. All kids (and adults!) have a hard time getting back into the routine of the school year. The knowledge that he is not alone in this experience will help your child feel he’s being heard and understood.
Morning Routines: A common change that occurs as we begin the school year is a new morning routine. To help your child be successful, discuss what her morning routine will look like during the school year. This way, your child knows what will be happening and has clear expectations that are valuable to her under the time pressure of getting ready for school. Provide your child with simple, well-defined, and easy steps for her routine so that she has a clear idea of what you expect and so that it’s easy to follow along with you! Having an easy-to-reference schedule, maybe with pictures, can engage your child and provide a wonderful visual guide for what she needs to do next. Giving specific praise when she completes each lets her know that you love what you’re seeing. This will increase your child’s chances of success in the future, and helps build her self-esteem.
Homework: Another transition that can be rough after a summer break is homework completion. Like the morning routine, providing your child with a structured schedule can help him stay focused and motivated. Completing homework as soon as school is over and with continuous parental support will take advantage of the daylight hours and provide encouragement, motivation, and assistance when needed. Snacks are a great way to keep your child’s energy up while he works through those tough math problems. Of course, some children have active schedules, with team sports, music classes, or afterschool clubs, which can make engaging in homework more difficult. Letting your child know that you understand the hard work he is putting in and being ready with frequent positive feedback for his effort can help motivate him to get homework done.
Bedtime: Bedtime is one of the hardest transitions. Children may be accustomed to going to sleep later and/or waking up later during the summer, so the new school schedule can be difficult to get acclimated to. As with the morning routine, having a nighttime schedule can assist in creating a structure for your child. Set your child up for success with clear expectations, simple step-by-step instructions, and praise at the completion of each step. Additionally, visual reminders can help your child have something to refer to as she goes about her routine. Most kids want more time watching their favorite TV show or finishing that last level of a videogame, and setting time limits can be a great way to put a boundary around the winding down time that they need each evening.
Parents themselves can be a little nervous about the first day of school, especially if they're seeing their little one off for the first time or if their child is going to a new school.
To help make going to school a little easier on everyone, here's a handy checklist:
What to wear, bring, and eat:
Does the school have a dress code? Are there certain things students can't wear?
Will kids need a change of clothes for PE or art class?
Do your kids have a safe backpack that's lightweight, with two wide, padded shoulder straps, a waist belt, a padded back, and multiple compartments?
Do kids know not to overload their backpacks and to stow them safely at home and school?
Will your kids buy lunch at school or bring it from home? If they buy a school lunch, how much will it cost per day or per week? Do you have a weekly or monthly menu of what will be served? Is there an account number that they need to remember? Can they open bags and bottles on their own?
Have you stocked up on all needed school supplies? Letting kids pick out a new lunchbox and a set of pens, pencils, binders, etc., helps get them geared up for going back to school.
Have your kids gotten all necessary vaccines?
Have you filled out any forms that the school needs, such as emergency contact and health information forms?
Do the school nurse and teachers know about any medical conditions your child has, such as food allergies, asthma, diabetes, or other conditions that may need to be managed during the school day?
Have you made arrangements with the school nurse to give any medicines your child might need?
Do the teachers know about any conditions that may affect how your child learns? For example, kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should be seated in the front of the room, and a child with vision problems should sit near the board.
Transportation and safety:
Do you know what time school starts and how your kids will get there?
If they're riding the bus, do you know where the bus stop is and what time they'll be picked up and dropped off?
Do you know where the school's designated drop-off and pick-up area is?
Are there any regulations on bicycles or other vehicles, such as scooters?
Have you gone over traffic safety information? Make sure kids know the importance of crossing at the crosswalk (never between parked cars or in front of the school bus), waiting for the bus to stop before approaching it, and understanding traffic signals and signs.
If your child walks or bikes to school, have you mapped out a safe route? Does your child understand that it's never OK to accept rides, candy, or any other type of invitation from strangers?
Does the school have the information needed so that other family members or trusted friends can pick up your child?
Homework is a very important part of school. To help kids get back into the swing of things:
Make sure there's a quiet place that's free of distractions to do homework. If possible, make this a space other than a child’s bedroom — this can help with establishing a good bedtime routine.
Don't let kids watch TV when doing homework or studying. Set rules for when homework and studying are to be done, and when the TV or other devices can be used and when they must be turned off. The less screen time, the better, especially on school nights.
If your kids are involved in social media, limit the time spent on it during homework time.
Keep text messaging to a minimum to avoid interruptions.
Never do their homework or projects yourself. Instead, be available to help or answer any questions, as needed.
Review homework assignments nightly — not necessarily to check up, but to make sure kids understand everything.
See how long it takes your child to do their homework. Spending too much or too little time on homework may be something to discuss with their teachers.
Encourage kids to:
develop good work habits early, like taking notes, writing down assignments, and turning homework in on time
take their time with schoolwork
ask the teacher if they don't understand something
To help kids get the most out of school, stay in touch with teachers via email or by talking with them throughout the school year. At parent–teacher conferences, for example, you can discuss your child's academic strengths as well as weaknesses.
Most of all, whether it's the first day of school or the last, make sure your kids know you're there to listen to their feelings and concerns, and that you don't expect perfection — only that they try their best.
Why School Attendance Matters and Strategies to Improve It
School attendance matters. It is arguably one of the most important indicators of school success. You cannot learn what you are not there to learn. Students who attend school regularly improve their chances of being academically successful. There are obvious exceptions to both sides of the rule. There are a few students deemed academically successful who also have attendance issues and a few students who struggle academically who are always present. However, in most cases, strong attendance correlates with academic success, and poor attendance correlates with academic struggles.
To understand the importance of attendance and the influence the lack thereof has, we must first define what constitutes both satisfactory and poor attendance. Attendance Works, a non-profit dedicated to improving school attendance, has categorized school attendance into three distinct categories. Students who have 9 or fewer absences are satisfactory. Those with 10-17 absences are exhibiting warning signs for potential attendance issues. Students with 18 or more absences have a clear cut chronic attendance issue. These numbers are based on the traditional 180-day school calendar.
Teachers and administrators will agree that the students who need to be at school the most are the ones that are seemingly seldom there. Poor attendance creates significant learning gaps. Even if students complete the make-up work, they most likely will not learn and retain the information as well as if they had been there.
Make-up work can pile up very quickly. When students return from an extended hiatus, they not only have to complete the make-up work, but they also have to contend with their regular classroom assignments. Students often make the decision to rush through or completely ignore the make-up work so that they can keep pace with their regular class studies. Doing this naturally creates a learning gap and causes the student’s grades to drop. Over time, this learning gap increases to the point where it becomes nearly impossible to close.
Chronic absenteeism will lead to frustration for the student. The more they miss, the more difficult it becomes to catch up. Eventually, the student gives up altogether putting them on a path towards being a high school dropout. Chronic absenteeism is a key indicator that a student will drop out. This makes it even more critical to find early intervention strategies to prevent attendance from ever becoming an issue.
The amount of schooling missed can quickly add up. Students who enter school at kindergarten and miss an average of 10 days per year until they graduate high school will miss 140 days. According to the definition above, this student would not have an attendance problem. However, all together that student would miss nearly an entire year of school when you add everything together. Now compare that student with another student who has a chronic attendance issue and misses an average of 25 days a year. The student with a chronic attendance issue has 350 missed days or almost two entire years. It is no wonder that those who have attendance issues are almost always further behind academically than their peers who have satisfactory attendance.
Strategies to Improve School Attendance
Improving school attendance can prove to be a difficult endeavor. Schools often have very little direct control in this area. Most of the responsibility falls on the student’s parents or guardians, especially the elementary aged ones. Many parents simply do not understand how important attendance is. They do not realize how quickly missing even a day a week can add up. Furthermore, they do not understand the unspoken message that they are relaying to their children by allowing them to miss school regularly. Finally, they do not understand that they are not only setting their children up to fail in school, but also in life.
For these reasons, it is essential that elementary schools in particular focus on educating parents on the value of attendance. Unfortunately, most schools operate under the assumption that all parents already understand how important attendance is, but that those whose children have a chronic attendance issue are simply ignoring it or do not value education. The truth is that most parents want what is best for their children, but have not learned or been taught what that is. Schools must invest a significant amount of their resources to educate their local community adequately on the importance of attendance.
Regular attendance should play a part in the daily anthem of a school and a critical role in defining the culture of a school. The fact is that every school has an attendance policy. In most cases, that policy is only punitive in nature meaning that it simply provides parents with an ultimatum that essentially says “get your child to school or else.” Those policies, while effective for a few, will not deter many for whom it has become easier to skip school than it is to attend. For those, you have to show them and prove to them that attending school on a regular basis will help lead to a brighter future.
Schools should be challenged to develop attendance policies and programs that are more preventive in nature than they are punitive. This begins with getting to the root of the attendance issues on an individualized level. School officials must be willing to sit down with parents and listen to their reasons for why their children are absent without being judgmental. This allows the school to form a partnership with the parent wherein they can develop an individualized plan for improving attendance, a support system for follow through, and a connection to outside resources if necessary.
This approach will not be easy. It will take a lot of time and resources. However, it is an investment that we should be willing to make based on how important we know attendance to be. Our goal should be to get every child to school so that the effective teachers we have in place can do their jobs. When that happens, the quality of our school systems will improve significantly.
Riding the school bus for the first time is a big step for your child. Help your kids get a gold star in school bus safety by following these tips.
The Hard Facts about School Bus Safety
School buses are the safest way to get children to and from school, but injuries can occur if kids are not careful when getting on and off the school bus.
Top Tips for Riding the Bus
Walk with your young kids to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives. Make sure drivers can see the kids at your bus stop.
Teach kids to stand at least three giant steps back from the curb as the bus approaches and board the bus one at a time.
Teach kids to wait for the school bus to come to a complete stop before getting off and not to walk behind the bus.
If your child needs to cross the street after exiting the bus, he or she should take five giant steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it’s safe. Teach kids to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
Instruct younger kids to use handrails when boarding or exiting the bus. Be careful of straps or drawstrings that could get caught in the door. If your child drops something, they should tell the bus driver and make sure the bus driver is able to see them before they pick it up.
Drivers should follow the speed limit and slow down in school zones and near bus stops. Remember to stay alert and look for kids who may be trying to get to or from the school bus.
Slow down and stop if you’re driving near a school bus that is flashing yellow or red lights. This means the bus is either preparing to stop (yellow) or already stopped (red), and children are getting on or off.
All services can be accessed from a Louisiana public library, from your home computer, or from your mobile device. Traveling out of state? Click here to access using your library card.
Article Created for Parent Power By: Tanya C. Griffin
The I CARE Program is here to help!
Higher education can be a very expensive endeavor. Very few students and families have the money to handle the expenses without some type of assistance. Fortunately, the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) has been helping students find ways to finance their education since 1962.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a critical step in the search for federal financial aid, but it is also important to save some money through START and through research scholarships.
Work-study programs are a form of financial aid in which you perform work in exchange for money for your education.
Federal government programs are the primary source of work-study, but individual college campuses may also offer their own programs to make additional financial aid available to as many students as possible.
Work-study programs have rules about whether the work can be on-campus or off-campus and about the maximum number of hours per week you can work. Your campus financial aid office should have the details specific to your program.
In order to apply for Federal Work-Study, submit the FAFSA and indicate an interest in work-study in section 1 of the FAFSA.
To find out if there are campus-specific work-study programs at the school you plan to attend, contact that school’s financial aid office.
In these challenging economic times, the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) wants students and parents to understand their student financial aid options. Many families have experienced the loss of assets reserved for their children’s college education or have lost a primary income source. Whether you are a new high school graduate entering college for the first time or a displaced worker who wants to return to school for additional job training, there are student financial aid options available.
It is necessary to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be considered for most federal financial aid programs. Many state financial aid programs and various scholarships also require the submission of the FAFSA. The Department of Education processes the FAFSA and notifies applicant with the Student Aid Report (SAR). The FAFSA can be submitted online at www.studentaid.gov.
The FAFSA can be submitted online at www.studentaid.gov or you can obtain a paper form from your guidance counselor or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). If you are hearing-impaired and have questions, contact the TTY line at 1-800-730-8913.
Federal Student Aid is available seven days a week to assist students and parents with FAFSA-related questions ONLY via phone, e-mail, and chat with a live agent.
Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) 1-800-433-3243
The following information will help you complete the FAFSA. Please note that the financial documents should be for two years prior to the academic year of which you’re applying. Example: If you’re applying for aid for the 2023-24 school year, you will need information for 2022.
LOSFA was the state agency designated by the U.S. Department of Education to be the guarantor of student loans that originate in Louisiana under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) for loans disbursed prior to July 1st, 2010 (7/1/2010).
LOSFA has entered into a contract with ECMC for the servicing of all our Default Prevention Services effective July 1, 2018.
All inquiries and questions must be sent to ECMC using the contact information listed below:
Organization is the thinking skill that helps a child take a systematic approach to problem solving by creating order out of disorder. Organization involves learning how to collect all of the necessary materials to complete a task while being able to step back and examine a complex situation. For example, a child is using organizational skills when they take time to gather all of their notes before starting to study for a test.
Listed below are links to some websites and articles that may assist your child with organizational skills:
Where a child learns is often just as important as what a child learns. With millions of students now learning at home, parents are challenged with crafting the ideal workspace that will facilitate education, discovery, play, and achievement. Fortunately, it is simple to build an effective workplace that your child will enjoy. Here’s what you need to know about creating learning spaces at home.
1) Carve Out a Purposeful Space
Kids need to have a designated space for learning — a place that their minds and bodies will associate with work, creativity, and discoveries. This workplace can be at the dining room table, a beanbag on the floor, at a desk, or a cozy corner complete with pillows. It should be comfortable, reasonably spacious, relatively free of distractions, and tucked away from household foot traffic. It should also be an arm’s reach away from supplies your child will need for that day’s learning, such as:
Pencils and paper
Notebooks and folders
Age-appropriate books, textbooks, and worksheets
Digital technology and a charging station
Ideally, the space should be reserved for times of active work and learning. Children should be encouraged to take breaks, eat meals, and have free time elsewhere away from their workspace. But the important thing is that your child identifies their space as a place to learn, and they are comfortable returning to it each day.
2) Let in the Light
The most effective learning spaces are those that are well-lit. Natural light and other sources of blue light are shown to increase productivity, alertness, and focus in children. In fact, a study of 21,000 U.S. elementary students found that kids who were exposed to more sunlight during the school day saw 26 percent higher reading outcomes and 20 percent higher math outcomes than children in less sunny rooms. If you can, position your child’s workplace near a sunny window or in a room that gets plenty of natural light. If your home or space lacks natural light, blue-enriched LED lightbulbs are also effective.
3) Quiet is Key
Children are much more vulnerable to the impact of noise. Studies have demonstrated that noisy classrooms can be detrimental to student focus, engagement, memory, and overall learning. The same applies to noisy learning spaces at home. The quieter the space, the better optimized it is for learning. However, certain kinds of music, like classical and ambient, can help boost productivity by strengthening the auditory, visual/spatial, and motor cortices of the brain. If your child enjoys listening to music while working, encourage quiet classical music or instrumental sounds that don’t contain lyrics. Your child should avoid high-tempo music like jazz, pop, and hip-hop, and should not work with the television, radio, or videos playing.
4) Give Your Child Ownership
Allow your child to make their learning space their own. Encourage them to choose where they would like to set it up (using the above guidelines). Have them personalize their space with colorful artwork, signs, and decorations. They can add pillows, blankets, and even stuffed animals (as long as they aren’t distracting) to help to make the space feel more comfortable, familiar, and inviting. If a child feels they have ownership over their space, they will be more motivated to use it and care for it.
5) Use What You Already Have
Learning spaces don’t have to be fancy or equipped with the highest-end supplies. You don’t need to spend a fortune on organizers, bookshelves, buckets, and bins. At a time when social distancing is of utmost importance, there is no need to take unnecessary trips to the store, when you can fashion an effective student workplace with ordinary materials you likely already have. A coffee table or foldout table can easily transform into a desk. Cover with a table cloth to protect from pencil or pen marks. You can even work with your child to make your own table cover out of newspaper or wrapping paper. Shoeboxes or other cardboard boxes can be repurposed into storage bins or organizers. Encourage your child to decorate the boxes themselves, and label them to indicate what will go inside.
SOURCE: Kariippanon, Katharina & Cliff, Dylan & Lancaster, Sarah & Parrish, Anne-Maree. (2017). Perceived interplay between flexible learning spaces and teaching, learning and student wellbeing. Learning Environments Research. 10.1007/s10984–017–9254–9.
Boost Your Child's Reading Comprehension with These Five Tips
The older your child gets, the more complex her school reading will become. She’ll need strong reading comprehension skills to do her best in school. To help your child understand what she reads, encourage her to:
1. Read aloud. This slows down reading and helps your child “process” words.
2. Read to relax. Encourage your child to read enjoyable books for fun.
3. Reread. Reading things more than once familiarizes your child with new concepts and vocabulary.
4. Supplement reading. Look for interesting, non-intimidating materials related to what your child is learning in school.
5. Discuss reading. Ask questions that encourage thinking, such as, “Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?”
Young Entrepreneurs Academy
As Baton Rouge area leaders, we support the growth and education of local aspiring entrepreneurs. Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge (YEA BR, www.yeabr.org ) is a national after-school program that transforms area high school students into confident entrepreneurs.
Starting in the fall, the weekly program teaches 8-12th grade students how to start and run their own businesses. To assist students in identifying their own business ideas, instructors from the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business help them connect their talents and interests to business opportunities. Students do not need to have a business idea before applying!
Throughout the academic year, students create business plans, file their companies with the Secretary of State's office, pitch their plans to a panel of judges for seed funding at the annual Community Pitch, and launch their own startups. Moreover, high school students who graduate from the Academy qualify for LSU credit.
Please share this opportunity with your network to help us reach creative, driven students who would benefit from YEA BR. Additional information is available online:
Student referrals can be made at www.yeabr.org/refer . The application deadline is August 20.
Help YEA BR unlock the potential of young, aspiring entrepreneurs, contributing to a culture of innovation throughout the Baton Rouge Area. Please spread the word!
Parent Power is a publication of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System
The East Baton Rouge Parish School System and all of its entities (including Career and Technical Education Programs) do not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion, national origin, disability or gender in its educational programs and activities (including employment and application for employment); and it is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of gender by Title IX (20 USC 168) and on the basis of disability by Section 504 (42 USC 794). The Title IX coordinator is Andrew Davis, director of Risk Management (ADavis6@ebrschools.org, 225-929-8705). The Section 504 coordinator is Danielle Staten-Ojo, (firstname.lastname@example.org., 225-326-5668). The Title II coordinator is Dr. Sandra Bethley, administrative director of Federal Programs (SBHorton@ebrschools.org, 225-922-5538).
All students have an opportunity to participate in Career and Technical Programs of Study, including but not limited to areas of health care; construction crafts and trades; automotive technology; IT computer technology; culinary programs; criminal justice; and agriculture. Admission requirements for each course can be found in the student course guide/schedule packet of the individual campus where the course is being offered. Please contact the guidance counselor at the specific school site for additional information, program requirements and/or any questions you may have.
Dr. Sito Narcisse, Superintendent of Schools
Letrece Griffin, Chief of Communications & Family Engagement