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Making a smooth transition
Ready to go: Students in the Pine Street Elementary kindergarten camp, one of four offered this year in Rockdale County, have a chance to become familiar with school before the first day. - photo by Michelle Kim

Kimberly Druga, mathmatics and language arts teacher at Conyers Middle School, offered the following tips for parents:

Be Aware: Most students will be assigned homework on a daily basis. Ask your student about his or her day and ensure that your student is completing assignments on time. Purchase an agenda to help your student keep track of his or her homework and then establish a pattern of checking the agenda to provide support. Set an expectation with your child that he or she will have homework time each night where they will complete assignments and study for their classes. Review their daily notes and discuss with them what they learned today.

Be an Advocate: Encourage your child to be active in their school. There are many clubs and other afterschool activities that will help your child be well-rounded and involved.

Be Supportive: Host a study group party or encourage your child to find a study partner. Make sure that your child is prepared for class each day both in completing his or her work and in having the supplies needed. Ensure that your child knows the expectations of the school including the proper attire that meets the school's dress code.

Be Available: Ask open ended questions of your child. Make sure that all of your contact information is correct so that the school can reach you. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are essential in keeping you informed of your child's progress. Check with your child's homeroom teacher to verify the accuracy of the information.

Be Informed: To find out about any of the above mentioned programs or to answer any questions you may have, please contact your child's school. You can also visit the county's website at to find out school or county information.

Starting a new grade is daunting enough, but starting a new stage of school – whether it’s entering kindergarten in elementary school, sixth grade in middle school, or ninth grade in high school, can be downright nerve-wracking, for parents as much as students.

But there are a number of things parents can do to prepare for this transition and make their child’s school year as smooth as possible.

Parents of young children entering pre-K or kindergarten can help prepare with enrichment activities like going over colors, shapes and numbers. But the most effective enrichment activity is probably reading with the child, said Director of Student Support Candace Ford.

Socialization is also very important. "Children are taught the rules of sharing and respecting each other’s property, they may fare better than peers who have not been exposed to those types of things," said April Fallon, director of community support,

"The more that parents can talk with their children about any transitions coming up, the better," said Ford. "Many times, school transitions are more difficult on parents than we like to admit."

Parent Carolyn Leary, whose daughter Elizabeth is a rising eighth grader, advised parents to ask open ended questions and be ready to simply listen sometimes and not make a heavy discussion of everything.

"Don’t rush to fix every problem," she said. "Be there but don’t necessarily be at the school the next day, because sometimes that can make it worse. And talk, talk, talk with your child."

Parents of older children may also have to prepare themselves for how much their child might change. "You go from pigtails to va-va-voom," said Leary, adding that middle school students deal with issues that adults might not think are around until high school, such as pregnancy or STDs. "You may not be talking about it, but they are talking about it," she said.

It’s also important that parents be connected and become involved in the schools in whatever way they can. Attend school functions. Sign up for I-Parent so that you can access your child's grades and attendance. Access the teachers' web sites so you can monitor homework assignments and upcoming tests and projects.

More information can be found on the county's website,