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Each new school year brings change. Some students will be heading off to new schools, while others will simply be advancing grade levels at the same school. Parents will be meeting new educators and school principals and adjusting to new policies and practices. Whatever the situation is for your student, school orientation is an important part of starting the year right. On orientation night, parents should arrive prepared: They should have questions and a plan for getting the most out of the experience. Here are some pointers.

parents at school orientation

Talk With Your Child
Ask your child to tell you his or her feelings about the upcoming school year. Some students will be changing class for the first time, dealing with multiple teachers or heading off to high school. Whatever the specifics are for your child, he or she is certain to feel some trepidation about the new challenges. Discuss any possible concerns your child has, as well as the things he or she is looking forward to. This will help you formulate a list of questions specific to your child's needs come orientation night.

Know What Is Expected of Your Child
During the orientation, it's good to ask what skills and concepts your child will be expected to master this year. Understanding what your child needs to know -- and how his or her grades will be determined -- is important. If it's possible to speak with new educators about their grading systems, do so. This will help you later on, when teacher conferences roll around and you have the chance to discuss your child's progress.

Understand School Policy
School policies are constantly being updated. You should be aware of any changes made in the last year so that nothing surprises you. As children get older, dress codes become more important and attendance policies become more rigid. It's crucial that you understand the policies and guidelines being enforced by your child's school. These can differ even within school districts, so it's best to get the information straight from your child's principal.

Learn about Extracurricular Activities
As students mature, more activities outside of normal academics become available. Extracurricular activities enrich students' lives. Orientation night provides you with the perfect opportunity to get a list of all available sports, clubs and groups your child may be interested in. These activities build leadership skills and other character traits that might not otherwise be learned at school. Discuss all of the choices with your child.

Schedule a Tour
Touring a school with your child and the school principal after orientation will be a positive experience. This is a time when your child can ask specific questions that will ease his or her transition into the new school year. Your child may have anxiety about the new year simply because he or she doesn't know what to expect on that first day. The simple act of experiencing the school grounds before that pressure-filled first day can help greatly.

Orientation night is designed to foster a smooth and comfortable transition for students and their parents. Educators welcome parents who come ready to immerse themselves in the details in order to provide the best possible experience for their kids. Arrive prepared, and you'll be sure to get the most out of this year's orientation.

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