Any break from school means an opportunity to spend some time relaxing and enjoying family. On the flip side, this time off can quickly lead to cabin fever. So, how can parents battle holiday boredom while also creating opportunities for academic growth during school holidays?
The key is to make the experiences and learning opportunities meaningful to kids. Some simple ways to do this are to focus on a child’s existing interests and offer choices so they can guide their own learning. Time off from school is a great time to help kids pursue their own interests and develop hobbies that can be their own sources of development and learning.
Boredom pops up quickly when activities get too repetitive. A school vacation is the perfect time to offer up some new learning experiences for your kids. Here are a few ideas:
1. Help you child develop a new interest by visiting a museum and following up on their favorite exhibits with a visit to the library.
2. Take advantage of extra time to be active outdoors by visiting a park, hiking trail, or other natural space.
3. Look online for inexpensive craft ideas, or turn their screen time into learning time by working together to learn a new skill. Check out this list of free winter activities in the Denver area to help spark ideas.
By using holiday time to help young learners further develop their own interests you can help them become more motivated and independent learners. Then when the next school break rolls around, they might already know how to cure their own boredom.
One of the reasons the Colorado School Grades coalition exists is to give parents the tools they need to choose as well as improve a school. If your school didn’t get a great grade, it’s not time to feel bad about it – it’s time to take action! We’re here to help. Here are a few simple ways to get started.
1. Contact your principal.
A great leader is one sign of a great school. Not sure how to connect with your school’s principal? Here are some tips for how to do so and a few questions you might ask.
2. Talk to your school board.
A lot of what happens at your local school is administered at the school board level. Colorado is a local-control state, meaning that school boards make a lot of important decisions that will affect your child. This is also an elected body, so they should be accessible to their constituents! Not sure how to reach out? We have a handy guide for that, too.
3. Understand your school’s accountability plan.
First thing first: does your school have an accountability plan? Probably! It’s the way the state and district tracks your school’s performance progress. Search on this statewide database, or ask your school board or principal for this important blueprint to your school’s improvement. Want to get even more involved? Every school has an Accountability Committee, comprised of parents. Ask your principal how to get placed on the committee and help hold the school accountable to its plan!
The Take Action Blog will be on a break Tuesday and Wednesday, but we’ll resume posting later this week. Happy Holidays!
All schools in Colorado have parents at the helm of an Accountability Committee, making sure performance, budgeting, and other important school issues are up to snuff.
Want to dig deep into what these Accountability Committees can and should be doing? Click here.
For a quick overview, here are four quick points on what to look for from your school’s Accountability Committee:
1. The School Accountability Committee can be elected or appointed – it’s up to your school board. Regardless, there must be representation by:
- The school principal or the principal’s designee
- At least one teacher who provides instruction at the school
- At least three parents of students enrolled in the school
- At least one adult member of an organization of parents, teachers, and students recognized by the school, and
- At least one person from the community.
2. Whether elected or appointed, the makeup of the board should reflect student diversity.
3. A parent should be selected as co-chair or chair of the committee.
4. The committee’s duties include:
- Meeting at least quarterly
- Making recommendations about the school’s budget
- Making recommendations about a school Performance or Improvement Plan
- Holding public meetings about strategies for the aforementioned plans
- Assisting the district and school personnel to increase parent engagement with teachers.
Never heard of a School Accountability Committee or want to know more about how to get involved? Contact your local school board or your school’s principal.
And, check out this blog post over at Chalkbeat Colorado with more about the nuances of School Accountability Committees, district-to-district.
Here are a few ways that you can get involved and help improve your child’s school:
1. Volunteer in a classroom:
Teachers can always use more help, and your child may benefit from having you in the classroom. Be sure to talk to the teacher about volunteering expectations. You can find more information about volunteering in Denver Public Schools here.
You can also volunteer in schools through a variety of organizations. Reading Partners is a great example; make sure to check for similar organizations in your district.
2. Donate to a local classroom through DonorsChoose:
Did you know that 91% of teachers spend their own money on school supplies and basic necessities for their students? Ask your teacher how you can help cover for projects at your child’s school, or help another teacher by sponsoring a classroom on the DonorsChoose website.
3. Post a review of your child’s school:
You can do this on Colorado School Grades or GreatSchools.org. If you love your school, share with other parents who are looking for a great school. If you feel that your school needs some improvement, posting some constructive feedback or ideas for improvement online might help motivate school leaders to make changes.
Staying involved in your child’s school is one of the best things you can do to improve their education. Here are a few tips for how to get involved:
1. Call your principal.
The best way to find out ways to get involved in your school is to ask the leader directly. Not sure what to ask your principal? We have a guide to help you get the conversation started.
2. Check in with your teacher.
Do you have some time to volunteer in the classroom? Want to know exactly what kind of assistance your teacher could really use day to day?
Call them directly – they want to hear from you! Here are some tips for how to talk to your teacher for the first time.
3. Learn when all the open houses, and other school events take place and be sure to attend.
Sign up for any newsletters or email alerts and read them carefully. Schools should usually give plenty of notice for conferences and other school activities. If your school doesn’t send out a newsletter, check your school’s website at least once a week.
Your child’s teacher has daily insight on how your little one is doing in the classroom. Make sure you get to know him or her and interact regularly.
Here are a few ways to make that initial contact with your teacher:
Script for Calling a Teacher
Sample Letter to Teacher
Your district’s school board has a lot of say in how the schools are operated. And, the board members have been elected by a vote of the people. Whenever you’re thinking of improving your school, these are the folks you want to get to know.
Here are a few ideas for how to reach out to them:
Script for Calling a School Board Member
Letter to a School Board Member
Interested in getting involved in your child’s school? Ask your principal for ways you can volunteer your time, give input on school policies, or any number of school improvement-related questions.
Here are a few tips for how to break the ice with your principal:
Script for Calling a Principal
Letter to a Principal