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Why choose Holy Trinity Lutheran School? By Natasha Walker

I was unsure what to expect when I toured HTLS in the spring of 2018.  I remember Mrs. Douglas escorting me around the campus and I truly felt like this was a great place for my daughter, Tori, to complete VPK.  I could even utilize the Wrap-Around program offered and either my husband or I could take and pick up Tori every day.  This would be the first year we did everything alone, without my parents playing a major role in Tori’s daily care.

It was not until we entered the library that I really knew this HAD to be the place.  I immediately recognized my elementary school teacher from St. Mary’s, Mrs. Lane.  She greeted me with a warm smile, a big hug, and even said she remembered me!  I believe she did because she provided an exact description of what I looked like as a child.  This had to be a sign that HTLS was the right place. 

The decision to enroll Tori at Holy Trinity altered our lives in a way I could never have imagined.  Circumstances with a teacher moving brought Mrs. Knecht into being Tori’s VPK teacher: Knecht’s family has deep connections with mine so here was another sign of reassurance.  I needed this reassurance because Tori had always struggled socially and sensory wise.  She was in pre-school for two years prior and had a difficult time making friends and adjusting to being in a structured environment.  Administrators and teachers that we had faith in told us that something was “off” with Tori’s behavior and we should do testing to get early intervention for “whatever” was wrong. 

Thousands of dollars later and many sleepless nights resulted in there being nothing “off” with my daughter.  Speech and sensory are not severe issues and both are manageable.  Needless to write, we started HTLS very stressed over how Tori would acclimate to a full day and more intense academic learning in VPK.   

Here, I am almost unable to continue because there are no words to properly express the changes I witnessed in my daughter.  Tori began to thrive, to love school, to pray often and out loud, to sing songs filled with joy, to speak of friends she made, to speak of God and Jesus Christ as her savior, and most importantly, love to attend church at Holy Trinity on Sundays.  We began attending at the traditional 10:30 service, but soon switched to the earlier, more contemporary service.  This service has live music, open discussion of the sermon and scriptures, and Sunday school.  There is not a better environment for adults and children of all ages.  I am proud to say that we are now members of the church and finally feel we have found a church home for our family.

I have been a public school teacher for 19 years.  I work at Plant High School, where I graduated in 1996 so I am well aware of the reputation of the South Tampa schools.  I lived it and now I work it, on a daily basis.  There is no doubt I am at the best public high school in the district, but I can say with NO hesitation, that the South Tampa public schools cannot hold a candle to a school like Holy Trinity Lutheran.  The world is a scary place and I believe that we all need God.  My daughter needs God.  The administrators, teachers, staff, and church family at HTLS embrace the school children and teach the truth of the Lord’s grace every, single day.  Christian education is a blessing and the teachers at HTLS are visible at all events and seen at church on Sundays.  What they teach Tori in their classrooms, she witnesses them living.  The HTLS staff “walks the walk.” As a teacher, curriculum is extremely important and the curriculum taught here is phenomenal.  In addition to the academic subjects, HTLS provides computer class, STEM class, physical education class, music class, art class, and lower levels visit the library for the opportunity to check out books.  There is a Spirit Squad, a Jump Rope Club, after school activities like karate and soccer, and so much more.  Public schools do not have all of these opportunities and public schools have larger class sizes and maybe one aid per five classrooms.  The kindergarten here has two part time aids, which equates to the teacher having an aid the entire day.  The entire elementary is thriving and the kids are happy and feel safe.  The students are learning the same standards as those in public school with our teachers having more freedom to teach.  To be able to teach your students the way you know best is a public school teacher’s dream.  This is my dream for my daughter’s education.

I have heard that HTLS is a “hidden gem” in South Tampa, but it is time to open the treasure box and reveal the worth of this school.  Take a chance – take a tour – and you decide…I bet you will choose Holy Trinity too.


Growing our Faith…and Size!

November 15, 2019

By Kelly Reilly, Principal

HTLS began the mission of providing Christ-Centered Education in South Tampa in 1958.  Throughout the years there were many shifts in not only the community around us, but the make-up of the school.  Much like a chameleon, HTLS has changed to match its surroundings and the needs of the community.  Program offerings have ranged from Kindergarten up through 8th to a Preschool and Kindergarten only.  The latter change was a result of the steady decline in enrollment that occurred in the years following the 2007 recession.  Across the country private school enrollment declined drastically as family resources needed to be directed to fulfilling the necessities at home.

In 2013, the leadership of Holy Trinity Church and School felt that it was time to again re-structure the school and its offerings.  The plan was to enlarge the size of our preschool to provide a solid base that could filter up to support a re-growth of the Elementary grades.  Over the next 5 years one elementary grade level was added per year, finishing with the addition of 5th grade in 2018.  This type of growth was the first of its kind at Holy Trinity.  This growth did not come without its challenges.  Stakeholders were not convinced that the re-growth would actually work, and many questions emerged like the following:

  • Were we really going to add another grade the next year? 
  • Are there going to be enough students? 
  • What about the new teachers and administrator…do they know what they are doing?
  • What about the new curriculum…will the students be prepared? 
The questions were valid and unfortunately ones that could only be answered with time, faith and prayer.  Through the grace of God, HTLS has continued to grow in numbers throughout the re-build and on November 5th, 2019 a “State of the School” address was presented that provided data on the re-build and addressed some of the stakeholder questions that are listed above.  Below are some highlights from the presentation.  We continue to be in constant prayer for our school, our students, our families and our teachers, asking God that they are all blessed by being a part of HTLS.   “Now to him who is able to doimmeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!”  (Eph. 3:2)

Bloggin' About Biztown!

April 4, 2019

by Kelly Reilly, Principal (and proud Biztown teacher)

Holy Trinity 4th & 5th grade students had the privilege to participate the school’s first JA Biztown simulation on March 29th.  The Biztown experience stretches beyond the traditional curriculum and provides students with the opportunity to begin to understand and experience important life skills.  The pre-training sessions led students through personal finance skills such as writing checks, balancing a checkbook, paying taxes and preventing identity theft.  Business management lessons taught them about the process and costs of a business start up as well as setting selling prices, customer service and the benefits of teamwork.  About halfway through the curriculum, students were able to apply for their preferred job at Biztown.  Students interviewed at the “Biztown Job Center” (aka my office) and used their newly acquired skills of making eye contact, speaking clearly and of course, giving the perfect handshake.  After the students were assigned their jobs, they began to work in their business teams to complete the final steps to prepare such as applying for a business loan and creating newspaper and radio ads.  After six weeks of preparation, the students were, as one 4th grade student said, “on the edge of their seats” with anticipation. 

The big day finally arrived and the 12 students were bursting with energy.  Their excitement could not be contained as they quite literally bounced down the sidewalk to enter the Bill Poe Family Junior Achievement Center. Just when I thought there was no possible way they could be more excited, they entered Biztown and their eyes grew wide as they took in the awesome sights.  They patiently waited through their training session and town meeting and then dashed off to their businesses to start the day.  I could not have been more pleased to watch all that they had been working on come to life during the simulation.  The CEOs expertly managed their employees and made important business decisions.  The CFOs processed their employee payroll and paid the business expenses with an e-payment system.  Customer service representatives greeted the students from other schools with a smile and our hard-working utility workers read the meters and changed out air filters.  The students were then able to use their hard-earned paychecks to have fun on their breaks.  They had the opportunity to purchase products such as sports memorabilia and slime or invest in stocks.  They also could participate in experiences such as free health checkups and riding the virtual roller coaster at Busch Gardens. 

At the end of a very busy day, the students were still grinning from ear to ear.  One student shared they loved their breaks and getting to shop and experience the other business while another shared that they really learned time management skills because it was busy!  Not only will they carry the skills they learned with them, but I’m confident that the memories from this day will remain with them for many years to come.


Why a Lutheran School?

November 16, 2018

Why A Lutheran School?

By Diane Frusco, 1st Grade Teacher

I was educated in a public education environment, my Kindergarten through senior year of high school being exclusively spent in a public-school system. My advanced education comes from my years in a Lutheran college.  That’s my background. Conversely, my two children were brought up with a Lutheran education in their earlier years and then moved into the public sector for middle school and beyond.  Most families are familiar with the public-school sector, but do you know why you should consider choosing a Lutheran school for your child?

Small, intimate environment –Whether your child is at the top of the class, is strictly ‘middle of the road,’ is facing some challenges, or is just exceptionally timid or shy, there’s certainly something to be said for growing up in a classroom environment that consists of sixteen or less students.  Children who spend their formative years in these more intimate settings have many opportunities to shine.   A smaller student body means that your child has the advantage of getting to know the children in the class on a more personal basis, whether they plan for play dates after school or just form strong bonds within the classroom setting and during the classroom day. Giving your child the opportunity to thrive and succeed in a small setting may help ensure that he is better able to move with confidence into a social setting that consists of more friends and greater opportunities later in the formal education process. 

Focus on others –Children who are raised in a Lutheran or smaller private school setting have plenty of opportunities to learn firsthand about shifting the focus of their consideration to others, rather than upon themselves. In our school we collect weekly Chapel offerings to support a variety of groups: local, national, and international. Children learn about helping others who have suffered loss and are in need. By being taught to serve and give, children are learning to empathize with others who are less fortunate and to open their hearts and minds to the needs of others.

Social Interaction –Students in Lutheran schools are taught from a young age that their actions affect others. Differences in opinion between students are handled in a much more intimate way than simply sending children to their own corners. Even the youngest ones learn to phrase the words “I’m sorry” and to own their words or actions that may have hurt a friend. And the child who has been wronged is taught to respond with the words: “I forgive you” rather than simply reply, “It’s okay.”  Sometimes it’s not okay, and children need to understand the consequences of words and deeds. By offering forgiveness, children are ready to move on from a conflict, knowing that while it may not be immediately forgotten, it has been resolved and they are free to release it.

Embracing Diversity –Attending a public school, your child finds classmates from the same neighborhood or from the same section of town. In a private school, the children surrounding your child in class arrive from a variety of different communities and may even be from more diverse ethnic or cultural backgrounds than your child. Spending time in their small class settings, children learn very quickly to embrace one another’s differences and learn more about the rich heritage of those whose lives are unique from their own. It’s more than simple tolerance; children learn to celebrate these differences and often times cherish them in the friendships they forge.

Increased Participation from Parents –Getting involved in your child’s public-school classroom isn’t impossible, but you may have to get in line, and there may be an involved process at work. In our smaller schools, parents are afforded much more ability to be a regular part of their child’s educational day. Opportunities to assist in the classroom, attend field trips, plan for activities and special events—all are available options for the parent who wants to be an active partner with the teacher in educating the child. 

A Full and Balanced Education –Receiving a Christian education often ensures that your child will receive a marvelously balanced and fuller academic education. While public schools have strictly imposed guidelines of what must be taught and when, Christian and private school counterparts often have great freedom to cover a variety of topics, both at grade level and beyond.

Don’t rule out providing your child a Lutheran school environment. We go beyond No Child Left Behind, we give EVERY Child a Chance to SHINE!

The Power of MAP Growth

October 25, 2018

The Power of MAP Growth

By Kelly Reilly, Principal

How many of you remember taking those good ‘ole fill in the bubble standardized tests in elementary school?  In my memory bank, it seemed like the testing went on for a month, even though I know it wasn’t really that long.  I always wondered, “Why do we have to take this test anyway?  School is almost over, and it doesn’t count as a grade anyway!”  I’m sure student’s today have similar feelings about that type of test, which is why, 3-years ago, HTLS made a change to using the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Growth standardized test for our Elementary students.

MAP Growth is a computer adaptive test that measures what students know, regardless of grade level.  When a student answers a question correctly, the difficulty level increases.  If they answer incorrectly, the level eases up.  Over the past few years we have found that students enjoy taking the test because it is interactive and there is no pressure to always get the right answer.  Their goal is just to do their very best.  The staff was enthusiastic to make the transition to the test because of the level of information that it would provide them about a student’s progress and the speed at which we would receive those results…within 24 hours!  Because MAP Growth is administered three times during the school year (Fall, Winter & Spring), it provides the teachers with powerful, real-time, tangible information to use to inform instruction throughout the school year. 

Our students completed their first testing session of the year at the beginning of October.  The teachers received the results and, together with the administration, have been analyzing them to determine the best course of action to meet the students’ needs.  This year we are starting something new…MAP Power Hour Parties!  Twice per month, the students will be grouped based on the needs identified by the MAP Growth tests and spend focused time working on those skills.  Whether its skills that students haven’t mastered and need more time with or advanced skills they are ready to cover, the teachers will plan lessons, games, activities to engage the students in that group to meet their specific needs.  Power Hour Parties will begin in November….so be sure to check in with your student to see what they’ve learned!

Meeting Our Urgent Needs

October 16, 2018

Meeting Our Urgent Needs

A Reflection on the FL-GA Educator’s Conference

By: Kathy Larson, 2nd Grade Teacher

On September 26th-28th, 14 HTLS teachers and staff members, along with 500+ other Lutheran educators, attended the Florida Georgia District Lutheran Educator’s Conference in Daytona Beach, Florida.  The theme for the conference was “Urgent Care” based on the Bible verse Titus 3:14, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.”

We attended a variety of different workshops that catered to different subject areas and grade levels, as well as youth work, church work, how to help and care for others, and how to help and care for yourself.  The workshops were very informative, and often interactive.  Each one of us took something away from the workshops, whether it was something that we can use in the classroom or use in our personal lives.  We were able to share what we took away from the conference with each other when we came back, and we were all validated and encouraged by the good things we are doing. 

I, myself even had the privilege and honor of conducting a workshop on thinking maps.  I had 55 attendees at my workshop that consisted of a variety of teachers from preschool all the way through to high school.  I was excited to share my expertise on an up and coming topic in education.  I even had a teacher send me a picture of one of her students trying out a thinking map after the conference.

At the conference, we were able to sit with other educators from different Lutheran Schools in Florida and Georgia within our same grade level and share ideas.  During this time, we had a guest speaker who spoke to us about care for our students and their families as well as how to care for ourselves.  We had time for prayer at our table and to pray for each other and our families. 

Of course, we couldn’t be at Daytona Beach without some relaxation time.  It was super easy to do that since the beach was just off of the hotel.  One morning, we woke up early and watched the sun rise while walking on the beach.  We also had some staff bonding time together playing games, walking on the pier and having a staff dinner.

I am grateful to be able to attend to such an awesome conference where I learned so much about myself and what tools I can use in my classroom.  It was also a great time to spend with a wonderful faculty and staff who are not only my colleagues, but who I also consider my family. 

You've Met the Teachers...Now Meet the School Board!

Who are the members of the School Board? The current school board has 10 members. These individuals are all active members of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and bring a wide variety of experiences to the board. Four of the members are teachers (2 retired from HTLS and 2 currently working Hillsborough Co. Schools). Other members have extensive experience in banking, military, property management, policy research, and/or office/administrative work. Each member has a unique and special relationship with the school. Seven of the members have children or grandchildren currently enrolled. Our board members are actively involved in the daily activities of HTLS as classroom volunteers and sponsoring/leading the after-school clubs. School board members routinely attend school events in an effort to provide support to the faculty, staff, administration, and students.

What Does the Board Do? There are many functions of our school board. We hold monthly meetings to conduct any business of the school and work closely with our administrators. Our main functions are to support and strengthen the school, establish the mission/vision for the school, oversee the programs/activities, develop a fiscally sound budget with the principal, participate in curriculum reviews, support and encourage our wonderful staff and help in support of the school as a mission of the church.

What Does HTLS Mean to Us? The Board members were asked what our school means to them. Here are some of the responses that we hope will reflect what our school means to parents as well.

  • ”HTLS provides a learning environment that my children can thrive academically and personally through caring teachers that let the love of Christ show through their lessons.”
  • “HTLS feels like a family. It's like finding a place that feels like home and provides Christian values.”
  • “HTLS provides a great education in a Christian atmosphere.”
  • “HTLS demonstrates a partnership between the parents, students, teachers to provide a safe environment with joyful learning for the students God has sent to us. We consider it a privilege to serve our Lord in this capacity.”

As a school board, we firmly believe what Proverbs 22:6 says is true and pray that through God’s hand our school is able to “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it”.

The Details on Departmentalization

By: Kelly Reilly, Principal

With the addition of 5th grade this year, HTLS has completed the build out of the Elementary School, but that’s not the only exciting thing happening this year.  HTLS now uses the departmentalization model for 3rd-5th grades.  Each day the students rotate between classrooms for their four-core subjects.  They see Ms. Hemmann for Language Arts, Ms. Vogel for Math, and Mrs. Kellar for Science & Social Studies.

So why the decision to departmentalize?  During the 2017/2018 school year, HTLS interviewed teachers and administrators from other Lutheran Schools as well as the local public schools that were using this model.  We also paid a visit to a few neighborhood schools to see the process in action.  Through this, we learned that with departmentalization:

  1. Teachers have more opportunity to collaborate on student success
  2. Students are introduced to various teaching styles
  3. The physical movement between each class provides an energy boost
  4. Students are more prepared for the style of middle school
  5. Responsibility & independence are encouraged

It was clear to the school board and administration that shifting to departmentalization was the right move for HTLS.   We are now more than a month into the process and have been encouraged by the positive response from the staff and students.  We look forward to the success the rest of the year will bring.

Here’s what the experts on the situation have to say:

  • “As a teacher, I am empowered to specialize my craft.”  – Nicole Hemmann, Language Arts
  • “It’s really fun because you’re not sitting down at the same desk all day.”  – Luke, 4th Grade
  •  “I like having the support of the other teachers to bounce ideas off of.”  – Katherine Vogel, Math
  • “It’s fun because we get to see different teachers each day”.   Sidni, 3rd Grade
  •  “With departmentalization the students are given a unique opportunity to be able to prove themselves as responsible and mature individuals.”   – Elizabeth Kellar, Science & Social Studies
  • “I like that we get to have different teachers and different activities in each of the classes.”   – Taylor, 5th Grade

Over the past two and a half years HTLS has gone through a process of building our curriculum through the use of Curriculum Maps. So what are curriculum maps and what does that mean for your student? In order to understand curriculum maps, you must understand that curriculum is more than the textbooks the school has chosen. Textbooks are used as a guide to ensure that all educational standards are met, but the curriculum process also involves how the teachers choose to implement the topics and the steps they take to modify and adapt lessons to meet the students’ needs.

Imagine you are on a road trip from Florida to Los Angeles. To plan your route, you need to know your starting point and ending point, but you will also have some points marked along the way that you know you want to check out. You may even try and map out your stops along the way for breaks. The same goes for a curriculum map. Our teachers have maps in each subject area to show where the class is starting, where they will end up by the end of the year, what they are going to see (units, topics, themes), and where they will make “pit stops”.

There are many advantages to mapping out curriculum. Here are just a few:

  • To continue the road trip analogy, trips don’t always go as planned. Sometimes roads are closed, there are traffic jams, or you may just want to take the scenic route. Because the teachers have their school year journey planned with the end goal in mind, they are able to veer off throughout the year to adjust to the class or individual student’s needs. For example, if a class is struggling with a new math concept, the teachers can make a “pit stop” to re-teach and re-group before moving on. This stop does not affect the end destination because they know where they are heading.
  • Knowing the target goal of each lesson and topic allows the teachers to determine how they want to teach. Perhaps they have found a better way of communicating the concept of diagramming sentences than what is given in the textbook. The maps encourage teachers to go for it! Use another road because you know you will still get to the same destination.
  • Curriculum maps encourage and enhance teacher collaboration. With the overview of the year in front of them, teachers can see where topics and themes line up across grade levels, so they can work on planning together.
  • Curriculum maps help to shift the questions teachers ask when they are planning from “what to teach” to “how to teach”. Classroom instruction then becomes more personalized and pointed, which enriches the student’s experience and utilizes the teacher’s strengths.

So buckle up passengers, we’re ready for an incredible road trip this year!

It’s Back to School time again, and by now you have already tackled the apparent needs: shopping for new school supplies, a snazzy new backpack, a cute and trendy lunch bag, and those great new shoes that all the other kids will envy. You've sent your child out to begin the new school year! But are you really done preparing for the school year? For some of our young students this is a brand new experience, destined to be repeated for at least the next dozen or so years. So, how prepared were you?

It seems so obvious, but if all you’ve done is shopped for the necessary supplies, you haven’t addressed the most important concerns of preparing your child for the start of the school year and for a lifetime of success. You’ve still got time. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Rest. Your child needs it, more than you might realize! Studies show that our young ones need an amazing amount of sleep time: 11-12 hours a day for pre-schoolers and elementary-aged students, and a whopping 14 hours for toddlers. The same studies also indicate that most children don’t get their daily required amount in. What can you do?

Begin by establishing a nighttime routine. Children thrive on routines, and few are as important as the nightly rituals. Choose the time and the activities that need to be addressed (bathing, brushing teeth, bedtime story, evening prayers, etc.) and then get started establishing that pattern. Make it a priority to provide that ‘down’ time each and every night, and your child will gradually learn to go off to sleep without much fuss. I say ‘gradually’ because it will be a process at first; your child won’t easily adhere to the schedule, unless you allow no wiggle room. It does mean that you will need to relinquish some of your early evening time to the needs of your child, but once she is down for the night, you have the rest of the evening for yourself!

2. Nutrition. The value of that simple word cannot be stressed enough. Start now, even in the beginning weeks of the school year, to get your child to eat well. Keeping to a daily schedule of meal and snack times is ideal, but if your schedule does not easily allow for that, then put your focus on the ‘what’ rather than the ‘when’ of eating.

One of the best pieces of advice that my children’s pediatrician gave me was to instruct me that variety isn’t always necessary. “If your child wants to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day—give it to him,” he advised me. So, once you have determined which foods are acceptable for your child to choose from, give your little one some choices and allow him to decide from which items you will choose. The key is: healthy foods. Bypass the pre-packaged Oreos and Doritos in favor of something with a bit more nutritional value—fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, yogurt, proteins. Occasional treats are not a problem, but a steady diet of junk food won’t give your child the fuel her body needs to succeed.

By giving your child some ownership in the decisions of what will be selected, you are teaching him skills that will assist him in becoming a healthy eater for life. Just be advised that because your daughter chooses cheese & crackers now, it does not necessarily mean that she will accept them in her lunch bag for the next ten weeks straight. Try to come up with a few alternatives, and then do vary, accordingly. Children get bored easily, so mix things up a bit.

If you really want to give your child some responsibility, have him help you with the preparation! Spend a few minutes gathering the food items and packaging them up for the week. Then your child might even be able to help out the night before by going to the cabinet and finding one of the ‘snacks’ he would like for the next day’s lunch. By allowing some degree of choice, you are lessening the possibility that your child will turn a nose up in disdain when the lunch bag opens tomorrow. If he complains, simply remind him that it was HIS selection, and ask if he’s changed his mind. (They are allowed to do that.)

And while you are preparing to pack those school lunches, there’s one more thing to include. Of course, you won’t want to forget the napkin and utensils your child will need, but young children LOVE getting personalized messages in their daily lunches! Even a couple times a week is something they will find exciting. Start now, preparing some simple messages or pictures that will be designed to put a smile on the face of any young child!

3. Information. Even young children can be taught to remember their address or phone number when it’s set to a familiar song. For years I would remember my sister’s phone number by singing along to ‘I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,’ just as my niece had been taught to do. It was highly effective. Your child may be preparing to head out to a new classroom or a new school, surrounded by new faces. Help them have the tools they will need to get in touch with you, should the need arise.

At the same time, you may need to spend a bit of time giving your child some basic ideas on what NOT to share. If you don’t want her telling the teacher all about Aunt Martha’s surgery, don’t bother sharing details. If you don’t want him telling anyone and everyone that you have a house key hidden under the back mat—well, don’t let him see you putting it in and out! And look for ways to share (it’s very individualized, by child) some simple Do’s and Don’ts of dealing with people they don’t know. Begin to teach them who they can talk to and who they can trust. Always reinforce that teachers are there to help and how to reach out for help when they need something.

4. Experience. You can use these precious first weeks as opportunities to help your child to become more independent. When the skies are gray and you are heading out for the day, ask your child what you will need to bring along. If it’s a hat or umbrella, encourage the child to find it and bring it with you. If you are packing for the pool or the beach after school, include your child in gathering the necessary items, and ask what will happen if you don’t remember them. “What if we forget to bring your towel?” Your child will quickly learn about the process of planning ahead—a life skill that will be ever-so-useful in all daily activities.

If you want your child to wear a sweater, spend a few extra minutes allowing her to put it on herself. It doesn’t even matter if it’s not buttoned correctly; she will be practicing something important. If it’s important for your child to have shoes on, give him the chance to try to get them on before you assist. And if he should balk at the prospect, do not cajole or threaten needlessly. Simply find a convenient consequence that will fit the situation and use it to your advantage. “If you don’t wear shoes, we won’t be able to stop at the store for [insert positive reinforcement]. That’s too bad.”

5. Routine. There’s that pesky word again, but it’s vital. Start now to instill routines, and stick with them, even when YOU get tired and out-of-sorts. The most destructive thing you can do to prepare your children for school is to allow them to believe that school is optional. They need to know, right from the start, that just like Daddy and Mommy have a job to do, they have responsibilities, too. And it’s never too soon to begin to teach that.

So, establish routines and follow them. Make Tuesday your Library Day, and make sure that every Tuesday, at the same time, you say, “It’s Tuesday, and it’s time for the Library!” If Sunday afternoon is your time to visit the grandparents, make sure you keep to that plan. “This is Sunday, and we’re off to Nanny and Pop’s house!”

Then, find a few optional activities that you CAN deviate from, now and again. “Would you like to go to the zoo on Saturday or to the playground?” Your child will quickly learn that some activities are designed for recreation and others are part of the regular schedule in our lives. Then they will understand, right from the start, that school is not optional and certainly not something that they have the power to choose to attend. (Some studies have indicated that decreased scores in reading and lack of success in later school years can be linked back to poor attendance habits beginning as early as pre-school and Kindergarten.)

By now you’re thinking that this is all common sense, and it is. But it’s also very easy for parents to fall into habits that enable their children to develop poor habits of their own. Good routines are easy enough to establish, but harder to follow, as time goes by.

Develop a plan for your child, and then implement that plan, and the results will be transformational! Your child will benefit from increased confidence, and your child’s teacher will be so impressed with how organized and efficient you are! And even if your child never thanks you, or even realizes what you’ve done, you will have the personal satisfaction of knowing that you gave your child all the tools he would need for a successful school year, for this year and beyond. So, pack up those backpacks with school supplies, and get your plan going!