KATY MAGAZINE, Katy, Texas
Katy Residents' Guide 2020
By Anne Lee and Katrina Katsarelis
Although you’re not enrolled in classes, as a parent, your involvement in your child’s education is vital to their success. Here are 19 ways to support your Katy ISD student and stay informed about what's going on inside and outside the classroom.
1. Follow School Social Media Pages
You'll want to follow your child's school and Katy ISD on social media where the most up-to-date information will likely be published on events, school closures, weather delays, etc. You'll also want to follow social media group pages for activities that pertain to your child such as band, football, drill team, and cheer booster clubs, or other groups.
2. Keep a Positive Attitude
When things get difficult at school, try to relay "can do" messages and encourage your child with solution-focused discussions. Assure him challenges are normal and he will get through them. Make sure to speak well of his classmates, teachers and school so he will feel good about going to school every day. If you get upset about about the amount of homework or something else happening at school, chances are your child will too.
3. Attend Open Houses and Events
Parents should attend the school's Open House and other events, regardless of their student’s grade level. At Open House, parents can meet the teacher and other parents, tour the classrooms and the school. Key instructional and classroom policies will be shared, including how the teacher prefers to be contacted. Don’t miss this important night!
4. Partner with Teachers
Approach your child's teachers with a "partnership mindset" because you are both vital to the success of his education. Establish a friendly rapport and keep teachers informed about your child's major life changes, stressors or concerns you may have throughout the year.
5. Don't Overreact
Those first few weeks of any school year can be very confusing, stressful and fast moving, and sometimes children come home with alarming stories of who did or said what. Get both sides of the story and take a day to calm down. Often, a child's perception is not always exactly what occurred, so stay calm and find out all the facts.
Make sure your child is aware of the do's and don'ts and consequences for breaking the rules in Katy ISD's Codes of Conduct Policy. The rules cover expectations, and consequences, for student behavior, dress codes, electronic devices, acceptable language, attendance, vandalism, cheating, fighting, and weapons. Discuss with your child what's expected at school and the school's consequences when expectations aren't met. One high achieving junior high girl in Katy ISD got expelled for having a pencil sharpener that resembled a small knife. True story. Know the rules.
7. Get to Know Other Katy ISD Parents
Befriending other parents will help you fill in the gaps of info you don't know, or find out classroom needs. You can also share tips on managing homework, completing assignments, or handling upcoming projects, etc. Parents with older kids are a great resource too, because they’ve already navigated through your child’s grade level. If you don't get to see them often at school, reach out with a friend request on Facebook.
8. Volunteer at the School
Katy ISD has many ways for parents to help out in the schools. Numerous studies show that children whose parents pitch in at school have a better attitude and higher academic achievement. Volunteer parents are also better equipped to support their child's schoolwork because they often know what's going on at school. Even if your time is limited, squeezing in some school volunteering can contribute to your child's success as a student.
9. Know and Appreciate the Staff
Do a bit of research on who runs your child's school - these people are vital partners in your child's education as well. When you see the principal, principal's secretary, counselor, or nurse, or bus driver, make sure and say "hi" and thank them for all they do.
10. Ask Questions
Work with the teacher to set your child up for success by being a good communicator. If you’re concerned about your child's grades, learning, behavior, or educational growth, ask the teacher to share their first-hand observations. Remember to find out at the beginning of the school year how each teacher prefers to be contacted and allow them ample time to get back to you. Teachers have so many responsibilities throughout the day.
11. Attend Parent-Teacher Conferences
Most Katy ISD schools host one or two parent-teacher conferences each year. Interpreters are welcome or can be provided by the school. During the school year, you can also request a meeting with your child's teacher. If you have a concern and can't meet face-to-face, send the teacher a short note, email them, or set up a time to talk on the phone.
12. Check Homework & Backpack Daily
Get your child in the habit of completing his homework by checking it at a certain time every day. You can monitor the Home Access Center to see if your child has missed any assignments, or follow Canvas to see what’s coming up or due. You'll also want to check the backpack for important notices kids often forget to pass on like permission slips, graded papers, and school flyers.
13. Allow Natural Consequences
If you race to the school to drop off that lunch your child forgot again, you're not teaching him the natural consequences of his mistakes Having to eat the school's bland "courtesy lunch" instead of his full meal a couple of times will likely be enough to motivate him not to forget his lunch again.
14. Teach and Encourage Compassion
Raising kids who have academic success is one thing, but many Katy parents also want to raise kind, caring human beings who make a difference in the lives of others. Challenge your child to look for someone who is having a bad day or feels sad and do a kind gesture for them or offer words of encouragement. Discuss specific ways he can be a positive impact on others at school.
15. Take Attendance Very Seriously
When your child misses a day in a Katy ISD school, they can miss a lot. Sick kids should definitely stay home if they have a fever, are vomiting, or have diarrhea. Children who lose their appetite, are clingy or lethargic, complain of pain, or who just aren’t “acting like themselves" might benefit from an occasional sick day as well. Otherwise, it's important for students to arrive at school on time every day, ready to learn. Catching up on classwork and homework can be stressful and interfere with learning and even create setbacks for your child.
16. Stay Organized
Keep the academic and extracurricular activities calendar up to date. When you are organized and prepared, you eliminate stress and are more likely to be successful during the week. Have your child prep their school clothes and backpack the night before, and plan lunches each week to save valuable time and eliminate guesswork during those busy school mornings. Sign school forms at night and label envelopes for turning in money for field trips, t-shirts, etc.
17. Know Your Child's Friends and Whereabouts
Your child's peers can definitely impact his success at school and at home so it's a good idea to get to know them well. It's also important to know where your child is at all times and be clear and consistent about the importance of communication.
18. Limit and Monitor Your Child's Electronics
On average, American children spend far more time on their phones, watching TV, and playing video games than they do completing homework or other school-related activities. Monitor what they are watching on TV, YouTube, Netflix, etc. Play their video games with them to gauge the game’s purpose and determine if they are age appropriate. Use parental controls on your child’s devices and pay attention to what apps they’ve downloaded. Maintain open communication with them about programs and apps that you don’t approve.
19. Don't Procrastinate
When your child has a big project coming up, teach him how to tackle it in baby steps and pace himself on balancing long term projects with daily homework. "In our family, we teach that procrastination means pain," says Barbara, a Katy mother of three. "My kids know they better not ask me to go buy a poster board for a project at 9 pm the night before it's due."
Lastly, don't forget to review Katy ISD's and your school's websites on a regular basis for calendars, upcoming events, testing dates, cafeteria menus, etc. Many teachers also maintain their own websites for communicating, detailing homework assignments, test dates, and information about classroom events so don't forget to ask. Visit Katyisd.org for a list of school websites.