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For the past few years, Visitation produced a blog that frequently featured the school’s faculty and staff. For the 2016-2017 school year, the Visitation blog will be authored by Visitation’s faculty and staff, who will share their ideas, advice, memories and musings with our broader community. We hope you enjoy this new blog, which has been dubbed “The View from Vis."

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback.

Top Ten Back to School Tips

August 28 is the first day of school for most of our student body, and the faculty and staff are excited to return to what we love to do: offering a great education to our students. In the first blog post of the year, Lower School Director Mary Pat Ferraro offers a top-ten list of recommendations for parents on how to savor these last few weeks of summer and make the back-to-school transition a bit easier for parents and children. While many of these ideas are geared to Lower School families, we think there is something for everyone in this post. We hope you find these suggestions useful, and we wish all students and families a happy, healthy, fun and interesting school year.

I can't believe it's almost back-to-school time! Everyone at Visitation is excited to welcome new and returning students and families. After attending summer classes, participating in professional development workshops and webinars, reading new and interesting educational literature, and spending time with family and friends, teachers are now busy preparing for your return and a year filled with learning that is joyful, meaningful and purposeful.

It seems like just yesterday that I was helping my two daughters into their stiff new blue jumpers and sending them to Vis for what was the start of a school journey that I am so very grateful for every day. Now my children are grown and living on their own, but I still recall the excitement and challenges of preparing for those first few weeks of school. Is your family ready to head back to school? I'm a "top ten" list junkie and am excited to be sharing my favorite top ten back-to-school tips that have served me and my family well over the years.

1. Enjoy time with your child. Take time to enjoy a summer walk to the park, card game, bike ride, weekend getaway, museum visit, storytime, or other favorite activity. Organized sports and other summer activities are really fun, but your children will remember the time they spend with you most of all.

2. Partner with your child's teacher. A positive parent-teacher relationship contributes to your child's school success. We are a friendly group and want to partner with you to make your child's school experience the best it can be. Communication is open and ongoing at Visitation, and we welcome honest conversations.

3. Allow for mistakes, failure and discomfort. I know it's not easy to see our kids flounder, but failure is a necessary part of growing up and building character. Books, articles and blogs abound about this very topic. In fact, I read another great article about allowing for discomfort just a few days ago. It's from the perspective of a camp counselor; follow this link to read the piece: Why Kids Need to Get Uncomfortable.

4. Prep the night before. Have your children pack their backpacks, get their snacks ready, and set out their uniforms (don't forget athletic shoes if it's a PE day) before heading to bed. A little bit of preparation helps families avoid the morning school rush and assists in getting your children to school on time. Plus, it's a great lifelong habit.

5. Get involved. Visitation is blessed to have an active and vibrant Parents' Association that welcomes and depends on parent volunteers. You might also consider signing up to help in the Dining Room, The Peddler school store, and classrooms throughout the year. Volunteer for an hour a year or several hours a week--we welcome it all; plus, you'll make new friends, have fun and make a difference.

6. Ask your kids about their concerns. The start of school is exciting but can also bring some anxiety – especially when it comes to the unknown. Take some time to ask your children what they are most looking forward to and what things may be worrying them. Many of their questions and concerns can be addressed in advance of their first day, avoiding a bumpy start to the year.

7. Breakfast really does matter. Children who eat a nutritious breakfast have more energy, do better in school and eat more healthily throughout the day. KidsHealth is a great resource for easy and nutritious breakfast ideas as well as healthy snacking options.

8. Stay connected. The Visitation website, teachers' Power Learning pages, the bi-weekly e-news, the Visitation calendar, and teachers' emails are great ways to make sure that you are in the know about school-related matters. Please carve out a few minutes every week to read the important information that is available to you.

9. Don't forget that first day of school picture. I look fondly on my daughters' first day photos. It became such a tradition that I now receive "first day" text pictures from across the country. I even received a "first day in my new job" photo text. Super fun!

10. Connect with the Director. All of Visitation's division directors are available for you and welcome your questions, thoughts, observations and concerns. Don't hesitate to give us a call or send an email.

I look forward to seeing you at the Lower School Back-to-School Picnic on Wednesday, August 23, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., and the LS Back-to-School Night on Thursday, September 7, at 6:30 p.m. We also welcome families to the Upper School Back-to-School Night on September 6 (from 6:30-9 p.m.) and the Middle School Back-to-School Night on September 21 (from 6:30-8:30 p.m.) These are great opportunities to socialize, learn about the exciting year to come and connect with your child's teacher.

I thank you for your support, and I encourage you to remember that summer is not yet over. Enjoy the next couple of weeks: play outside, soak in the sun, live it up! Life is great, and your kids are amazing. See you soon!

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