Guidance Counselors at Sagemont, a Broward FL Private School, Offer Back To School Advice, August 2013

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Guidance counselors at Sagemont, a Broward private school serving preschool through 12th grade, offer tips and advice to create a positive back to school experience this August.

'Students get to ‘walk’ their schedule and know where their classes will be,' Maritza Zea, Guidance Counselor

The first day of school can be emotional for both students and parents. Children may feel excited, anxious, even terrified, especially if they are starting a new school. Fortunately, there are things you can do to ease back to school jitters and ensure the first day of school is a success for you and your kids.

First and foremost, be prepared. Regardless of what grade your child is entering, it’s important to tour the school and attend Orientation Day.

For younger students, this is an opportunity to meet their teacher and some of their classmates and get acclimated to their new classroom, perhaps even put school supplies away in their new desk.

“Orientation Day helps students and parents get to know school staff and ease their way into the new school year,” explains Maritza Zea, guidance counselor for The Sagemont School Lower School Campus. She recommends parents use this opportunity to introduce themselves to the teacher and find out how she/he likes to communicate, establishing a partnership for your child’s education.

Orientation Day is equally important for older students. “Students get to ‘walk’ their schedule and know where their classes will be,” explains Sagemont Upper School Guidance Counselor Michele LeMar. “Students can also find their lockers and make sure they know how to open them.”

Ms. LeMar stresses the importance of completing all summer assignments before the first day of school. “In middle school and high school, students are expected to do all homework and turn it in on time.” She suggests students purchase an agenda to keep track of assignments, due dates and test dates.

Regardless of whether your child has summer assignments or not, both Ms. LeMar and Ms. Zea say it’s important to review academic skills so that your child does not succumb to the “summer slide.”

According to Ms. Zea, “Experts agree that a student who reads during the summer gains reading skills, which means gains in reading achievement into the new school year.”

She recommends students read daily. “When these students are back to school into the new year, they have a greater probability of being able to read for more sustained periods, show greater confidence as learners, ask and answer more questions, listen and follow directions, and are better able to work in group as well as independently.”

Ms. LeMar says refreshing academic skills does not need to be a chore. “Parents can encourage math skills in everyday situations. Shopping, cooking, walking in the neighborhood can become math exercises. Read a book or magazine together and discuss it for comprehension and higher thinking skills.”

Ms. Zea cautions parents to avoid drilling your child as this could create unnecessary stress. She says it’s important to avoid overburdening children.

“In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed, make sure your school supplies include a wall calendar or personal planner. Mark the due dates of upcoming assignments and tests. List any other time commitments your child may have – sports teams, volunteer activities, etc. When the calendar starts looking uncomfortably full, it’s time to start saying ‘no’ to any additional commitments. Saying ‘no’ before you start suffering from negative physical effects of feeling overwhelmed is the key to remaining sane.”

Despite your best efforts, children may still be scared or apprehensive about the first day of school. Both Ms. LeMar and Ms. Zea agree this is perfectly normal. Your child is entering a new situation and that can be scary, regardless of their age.

For little ones, Ms. Zea says there are some wonderful picture books available to help ease the jitters about starting school. She recommends The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing and the Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. For older students, she suggests reviewing the school’s website and reading the student handbook.

Finally, whether your child is starting kindergarten or his/her senior year of high school, to best prepare for the first day of school, be sure your child gets a good night’s sleep and eats a healthy breakfast.

“This might be the most important back-to-school tip,” states Ms. Zea. “Kids who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to have better concentration, problem-solving skills, and eye-hand coordination. They have more strength and endurance. They can be more alert and creative.”

Before you send your child back to school, Ms. Zea shares this final piece of advice: “Remind them that a new year is a chance to try out new behaviors, make new friends and learn new material. It’s a chance to master new skills, succeed where you once failed, and grow into the adult you want to become.”

The Sagemont School offers a college preparatory curriculum and operates two campuses in Weston, Fl. In preschool through the elementary grades, The Sagemont School provides core concepts in a creative environment combined with weekly specials that include science, art, music, Spanish for non-native & native speakers, swimming, PE and media and technology. From middle school through high school graduation, Sagemont students choose from a variety of regular, honors and AP course work. In addition, students share in a networked wireless laptop environment and participate in a comprehensive guidance program for college entrance. Visit The Sagemont School Web site at

For more information on The Sagemont School contact Dr. Brent Goldman, President at (954) 389-2454 ext., 305, or email to bgoldman(at)sagemont(dot)com. To read more stories about The Sagemont School written by Stacey Bomser, go to School News at

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