The Freshman Transition Network

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Did you know that a parent’s excitement about school plays a great role in a child’s enthusiasm on the first day of school? A parent can ignite the fire and passion for learning just by saying the right words. One way to encourage a child is to brainstorm a list of 25 positive words that you can use to encourage your child. Place it in a very visible location in your home. It is important to keep this year moving in a positive direction. Use words of encouragement whenever you can. View any academic obstacles as stepping stone on your son/daughters journey to success.

There are some things that you can do and say to make this a successful school year. There are limitless learning possibilities for the new school year. Consider how you can also coordinate your activities with other parents. Here are some other ways that you can ignite excitement:

1. Share your excitement about the new school year with your son/daughter

2. Complement them on their growth over the summer

3. Verbally express your confidence that they will be a success.

4. Let them know that you are proud that they are your son/daughter

5. Work together on a fun project right before school starts. Let your student select the project.

6. Feed them breakfast in the morning and encourage them to have a great day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

7. Talk about different resources and activities that would be great learning opportunities such a visiting a museum of a great play.

8. Visit the local book store to find discount books that your son/daughter can use during the school

9. Make sure that you are available to talk the day before your child’s first day of school.

10. Allow your son/daughter to teach you something that they have learned over the summer or during the last school year.

Getting the school year off to a good start is an important way to lay a good foundation for learning. Build your foundation on the positive aspects of learning. Stay in communication with teachers and the school administrators about school related activities. Also review the school website for organizations that may benefit you child. You can have an exciting school year just by investing time and identifying new experiences for each child. Dr Stephen Jones is an outstanding educator and consultant he is the author of “Seven Secrets of How to Study, the Parent’s Ultimate Education Guide and the Ultimate Scholarship guide at He can be contacted at 610-842-3843.

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Comment by Bill Betzen on September 18, 2010 at 9:59pm
Dr. Jones,
You have hit the nail squarely on the head! Very well put!

The messages that parents send to their child are critical. That is the reason that a year ago we added a critical ingredient to the School Archive Project ( The first action is sending instructions home to parents to give them an outline of what they could write into a letter to their child to encourage them in their studies. The goal is to write about their dreams for their child and how they are willing to help that child achieve those dreams.

The student then brings this letter to school to use in writing the letter they will write to themselves about their history and plans for their own future. Both these letters are them placed together by each student into one envelope which is self-addressed to that student. These envelopes are then placed into a 500-pound vault bolted to the floor in the school lobby, a place passed many times each day by all students. This is the School Archive. All students know it contains these letters they themselves and their parent have written. It helps remind them of these dreams by their parent and their own plans for themselves.

At the end of their last year in that middle school, or in that high school, they will receive that envelope back. Both the parents and the child will again write a final letter, this time focusing on goals 10 years into the future. These letters are then placed together and, on "Archiving Day", are placed into the vault. The students places the envelope on the shelf for their class where they know the envelope remains for 10 years.

A photo is taken that day of the Language Arts Class posing with their letters and teacher holding their letters. Two copies of that photo are given to each student, one copy for them and one for their parents. On the back of that photo are the details of the School Archive Project and the date for the class 10-year reunion. Students are reminded that they will receive their letters back and then be invited to speak with the decade younger students now in their school. They know they will be asked to speak about their recommendations for success. They know they should be prepared for questions like "What would you do differently if you were 13 again?"

The school that has recieved the majority of our middle school Archive Project students since 2005 has almost doubled its graduation rate since 2005, going from 34% to 60%! See more specific current project details are on the blog at These ideas are free to use.

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