What an incredible start to the 2019-20 school year! First, the students (and parents) who were able to attend the Back-to-School Picnic last Saturday were blown away by the the new front entrance, beautiful lobby, and, of course, the sparkling gem that is the new theater. It has truly transformed our school building and energized everyone!

Secondly, digital literacy and humanities teacher Anne Holmes started work Wednesday with her due date for her baby’s arrival a little more than two weeks away. Well, surprise, surprise, Anne began feeling “funny” during the day, left school at 2:00 p.m., and drove to the hospital where she delivered her little girl at 4:00 p.m. Wow! We are so pleased for her and baby Mabelle, who rang in at 6.9 pounds and 18.5 inches. Baby and family are doing fantastic, and we wish them the best! We were also fortunate that Goshen and High School alum Tom Skaggs G’04, ’08 was on deck to take on another St. Francis short-term assignment. He arrived at lunchtime yesterday, and will be Anne’s fill-in until she returns later in the fall. What a start to the school year!

We also wanted to give you some tips to get the new year off to a great start, so here is some advice gleaned over the years from ourselves and other educational experts:

  • Eat a good breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day and will give your child the energy to power through the morning.
  • Have your child be responsible for their belongings (i.e. packing their own backpack). This is a great tip to start in Lower School.
  • Ask your child what went right or what their favorite part of the day was (and don’t focus on what went wrong). When students do complain about something at school, please contact their lead teacher, advisor, or the teacher in question first to get everyone’s perspective on the situation.
  • If your child says that “there’s nothing to eat at lunch,” or  “didn’t eat anything,” review the lunch menu with them ahead of time. There are plenty of wonderful options at St. Francis every day, including vegetarian choices.
  • Read every night at home. If a child says there is no homework, certainly check the Parent Portal (in Middle School). They usually will have some, but reading every night in all grades is one of the best things students can do to grow in all areas!
  • If students in Middle School begin to pull away from you, or not want you present at school, this is developmentally appropriate. It may “sting” a little bit, but it is what naturally occurs during the middle school years as they begin to establish their own identity and friendships and peer relationships become more important to them. We will share more on this topic at our upcoming Parent Coffees and Back-to-School Nights. One of our faculty summer reading books was Best Friends, Worst Enemies, which was a terrific resource in this area.
  • Another tip in this area is that it is just fine to have a few best or close friends versus being socially “popular.” A few best friends allow kids to have companionship, someone to confide in, and make school and private life happy.
  • Allow your children to try and settle their own difficulties at school as they get older. Struggling and figuring out how to manage new social groups, new teachers, and new situations are a wonderful lesson in life, and parents attempting to fix perceived problems don’t allow kids to grow in this area. 
  • Get the correct amount of sleep. Experts recommend at least nine hours of sleep and a regular bedtime routine is essential to students being refreshed and ready for the day ahead (and for those of you new to St. Francis, we moved the start of our school day back to 8:30 a.m. rather than 8:00 a.m. a few years ago for that very reason).
  • Have a well-organized and set place for your child to do their homework. It should be comfortable, quiet, and have the supplies they need to do their work.
  • And finally, students should not have screens in their bedrooms when it is time for bed. Many parents collect phones and gaming devices from their kids and put them in a designated place to ensure kids aren’t on devices when they are supposed to be sleeping. 

We hope you find these tips helpful as you and your family transition from summer to the school year. Here’s to an incredible 2019-20 school year!