8 Strategies for Parents to Support Students in Preparation for the 2020-2021 Year

  • Academics
  • Child Development
Jessie Skipwith
  1.  Setup Your Workspace - Maintaining a clean and organized workspace is key in student learning.  Having the materials you need to successfully navigate each school day is critical in feeling confident and prepared to tackle the tasks of any given day.  For returning Middle School students, these materials will be familiar, and for students new to the Middle School, these materials typically reflect charged computing devices ahead of time, color coded folders for specific class organization, and a personal system of time management and organization that will help you to stay on task and not miss any upcoming assignments.

  2. Have a Daily Schedule - getting into a routine is very helpful in being able to manage and predict the various activities that you will need to manage each day.  Post your schedule in a place where you can see it and refer to it daily.  Commit to yourself that you will attend EVERY class and arrive on time if not early.  Class participation is a big part of your grade and your success in a particular class, and we know that when we are engaged and active participants in our own learning, we learn and retain so much more.  You can also review your daily schedule the night before to give yourself time to prepare for your next day's work as well.

  3. Get the Easy Points - Although grades are not everything, it sure does feel good when we earn a grade that we have worked hard for.  One way to help your overall grade in a specific class is to make a commitment to yourself to have NO ZEROS.  Zeros can really hurt a grade and we can see very clearly that when a student makes this commitment to themself, they find that they are learning, practicing and giving teachers a better view of strengths and challenges that they might be experiencing in any given subject area.  So please, please commit to NO ZEROS this year, and you will be setting yourself up for better success.

  4. Self-Advocate - Questions are great and getting answers to these questions feels even better.  As students continue to grow and mature in their respective academic endeavors, the skill of self-advocacy can be a student's best friend.  No question is a bad question, especially when getting the answer earlier rather than later can free a student up to proceed with confidence.  We will work diligently and consistently to empower students to take the initiative to listen attentively at first for sure, but if they have questions, to feel empowered to reach out directly to a teacher, friend or an Elevate team member to get answers.  The most important thing is not to sit in silence without trying to get answers. The world is run by those who show up

  5. Maintain Self-Care - Students (and parents) need to really put effort toward taking care of themselves during these unpredictable times.  Regular bedtime and ample sleep, having three healthy meals per day, playing outside and getting fresh air and exercise, and even just taking a 5 minute pause at some point throughout the course of each day, are all easy ways we can care for ourselves.  By expanding our Elevate team, and partnering with our wonderful parent community, we can exponentially expand our capacity for "keeping eyes on kids."  We know that following this summer of 2020, we can expect to see a heightened level of anxiety and potential challenge upon returning to school.  Early identification and intervention are those pieces that remain in our control.  Again, please reach out early and often if you are seeing anything in your child that speaks to any of these potential challenges, and together we can work to connect students and parents with a wealth of additional resources with whom we partner for additional student support throughout the year.

  6. Engage in Self Awareness - In order to best care for ourselves, we need to increasingly know ourselves.  We each have a different style and preference for navigating the world and when we can play to our strengths we set ourselves up for success.  Understanding better our own learning style, our tendencies for anxiety or overcoming challenges, and who we can comfortably  go to for help when we need it, are all keys to leveraging our personal strengths and developing any areas of growth.  This is certainly a life-long process, but now is the opportune time to begin.  Students at Aspen Academy are guided through a multitude of activities and curricular standards that help to facilitate this growth in each of our kiddos.

  7. Review Accommodation Plan - For students on Accommodation Plans, returning families will have already been provided a copy of your child's personalized Accommodation Plan and the end of the summer is a great time to revisit and review this plan with your child.  Please let me know if you need an additional copy of your child's plan and I can share a copy with you.  As you review this plan with your child, please take the time to practice and role play how your child feels that they can best leverage the accommodations that are in place for this upcoming school year.  Please also make any notes of additional thoughts or questions that you may have for when we come together for our beginning of the year Accommodation Plan/Personal Instructional Plan (AP/PIP) meeting which will take place over the course of the first weeks of school.  (Invitations to Schedule AP/PIP meetings will be sent out in late August/early September)

  8. Express Needs for Social Emotional Support - Taking time to share with me any new information that you may have come by through additional evaluation over the course of the summer, any changes in your child's medication, or any additional changes in life circumstance for your child or your family, will be most helpful in proactively modifying any areas of the support plan that is in place.  We have a wealth of outside resources for you and your family in the areas of Counseling, Tutoring, Evaluation and more.  These resources are readily accessible and serve as wonderful supplements to the comprehensive curriculum that our students participate in while growing in self-awareness, self-esteem and self-efficacy. 


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About the Author


Jessie Skipwith is the Director of Elevate & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Licensed School Counselor at Aspen Academy.

Jessie comes to Aspen Academy with over 20 years of experience in educational leadership and student engagement. He has held head of school positions at elementary, middle and high schools, ran an all-school counseling department, provided private practice counseling services for families and individuals, and has served as the executive director of an education non-profit supporting low-income, English language learners from throughout the greater Denver area. He is a voracious reader of books about how students learn, how families and communities support developing young people, as well as books on progressive, innovative and dynamic new solutions to many of today’s life challenges. Jessie loves that Aspen Academy provides families and students with a small, nurturing and safe environment that encourages students to take healthy risks, to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, and that it inspires insatiable curiosity and wonder in students as they pursue their passions to help make the world a better place to live for all people. Outside of work, he loves to spend time with his wife and two children and enjoying Colorado’s great outdoors while hiking, golfing or skiing.