Vail Valley voices: Crucial time of year for education |

Vail Valley voices: Crucial time of year for education

Sandra B. Smyser,
Vail, CO, Colorado

While this time of year marks the beginning of a new chapter for the majority of people, in the world of education January poses as a mid-year milestone.

With the holidays come and gone and winter break slowly fading away, this can be a difficult time to get back into a routine and re-awaken our children’s minds to prepare for learning in the classroom.

Many people don’t realize that January is a critical point in a school year for each of our students.

Regardless of their age, this is the time of year when students show us how well they have progressed.

The next few months can make or break a student’s performance for this entire school year.

As parents and teachers, we are watching for signs that all the difficult lessons of the first half of the year are beginning to take hold. Skills that were introduced last fall should be developing in strength.

The next few months between January and spring break will bring a mastery of skills and an authentic blossoming of capabilities.

Students should be feeling more confident and be more able to take on challenges and difficult themes in their classrooms.

I encourage parents to make a commitment to helping your children re-focus for the remainder of the current school year, as they are building a foundation upon which they will pursue their dreams during the rest of their academic careers,

post-secondary adventures and beyond.

The following are just a few suggestions:

– Help your children to set personal goals in certain subjects. Nurturing a forward-thinking frame of mind will help your child improve academically by preparing and not procrastinating.

– Assist them in developing a passion for their education by finding personal relevance in a subject area.

– Give the extra effort of your time by talking to your children’s principals and teachers to determine the best mechanisms of support you can offer them in order to ensure their success in school.

If your child is not gaining strength and confidence, now is the time of year to talk with teachers about their struggles — don’t wait until spring.

– Offer to quiz them while studying for an exam. Helping them develop good study habits will help ensure their academic achievement.

As educators, we plant the seeds of learning in the fall.

While currently deep into the winter months here in Eagle County, these seeds must be watered and tended to.

Spring will soon be upon us, when these children will bloom and their true potential will shine.

Now is the time to prepare our students, nurture their learning and encourage them to work diligently in order to ensure their academic success in the future.

Sandra B. Smyser, Ph.D., is the superintendent of the Eagle County School District. She writes a column monthly about local educational issues

Support Local Journalism