John Thomas


Flint Hill School

Welcome back to another great year of learning!  The start of the school year is always a moment of great anticipation and excitement.  Whether your child is new to school, they are making a change and this is going to be their first experience in a particular school, or they are simply returning to their school after a fun-filled summer, this is going to be a very special moment for them. For everyone, students, parents, and teachers alike, there is that wonderful sense of a new beginning and a fresh start.  It is natural for students to have a bit of anxiety and maybe even a few questions – what will my teacher(s) be like, who will be in my class, etc.  But the focus should always be on the new upcoming adventure of learning and growing.  To make it all go smoothly, there are a number of things that we can as parents do to make this educational experience be as positive, productive, and worthwhile as possible.  To be honest, there has never been a more exciting time to be in education or to attend school.  There is an element of energy and momentum that is present on every school campus in the country and especially, in schools here in our greater Washington DC community.  A key responsibility of ours as parents is to help our children embrace this moment and prepare them to get the most out of it as possible.

What can you do? First and foremost, help create a climate of positive anticipation.  If possible, take time before school even begins  to visit the campus.  See the grounds at a very non-threatening time.  Walk the halls if this will be a new school and begin to make everything from driving to the school, walking in the front door, to being at the building very familiar.  This will be “their” school and we all want them to feel a pride and passion in being there.  Share the joy in seeing them be there and all that they will be learning.  For your child, encourage that sense of “can’t wait to get to school.”

When school begins, take the time to engage in the school.  Meet the teachers and the school leaders.  Introduce yourself.  Appreciate the fact that they want to partner with you in helping to nurture and support your children.   Believe me when I say that the great teachers we have in our schools can’t wait to work with your child (ren).  Our teachers today are committed to making a difference.  They want to have an impact and have probably spent much of their summer doing professional development and thinking of ways to make this a great school year.  Enjoy the chance to know them as well.  Great schools always come back to the relationship between the child and the teacher. Find ways to engage yourself in school life.  Join a parent committee, attend the coffees, and come watch the games and the performances.  Make the educational experience at your school “a way of life,” not just the place where you “send” your children.  Make it something special that you all share and benefit from together.  Trust these great educators and value all that they will be doing for your child.

Prepare for an adventure.  Real adventures in today’s world can be rare, but this educational adventure is real and all about change, growth, and development.  There is so much that is happening in our schools today.  There is the creative use of technology.  There is the focus on the development of “21st century learning” and all the opportunities to learn in new and exciting ways.  Your child will learn to collaborate, communicate, think creatively and critically, and they clearly will develop a sense of character.  All of those traits come from the Mission of the school that your child will attend and all of them will only occur when school and home are working closely together. School today looks and feels differently than it did when you and I went to school.  This is that tremendous sense of momentum that is evident in good schools today as we prepare our children for a world that is also changing rapidly.  The skills that this educational adventure will produce will have an impact on how they learn and will ultimately be the key to their future success.

And above all else, cherish these years for and with your child.  Never lose sight of the fact that time moves quickly and the growth that you will see on a daily basis will seem to flash by you in no time. Appreciate the fact that never in their lives have they had so many adults looking out for their best interests.  Home and school together make a tremendous partnership and the beneficiary of all of that love and care, challenge and support, nurturing and mentoring, is ultimately your child.  Helping our children get a strong and vibrant education is a gift – a priceless gift that will last a lifetime.