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How to Give Your Child a Powerful Start This School Year.

Get your child off to the best start you can this school year. Many of these tips are universal for preschool through 12th grade, so read them all and adapt to the appropriate situation.

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  • If this is the first time your child attends a formal school setting, try to linger around the classroom for a little while for the first few days to help with any transition issues.
  • Ask the teacher for assistance if your preschooler experiences separation anxiety. Preschool teachers have been dealing with these issues for years and can offer advice.
  • Remember your child is adjusting to new experiences and may have trouble eating or sleeping and may have a melt down on the way to or home from school. This phase is normal and usually short-lived, but if it continues you should consult with your school.


  • Kindergartners have many of the concerns of preschoolers about leaving home, plus some new challenges like a new and bigger school, more children in the class and on the playground and a longer school day. Help your child understand the school routines, school floorplan and guidelines for behavior.

First & Second Grades

  • The transition in these grades tends to be easier unless your child is entering a new school in these grades. Introduce him/her to it just as you would a younger child, but do it an age-appropriate way.

Third through Fifth Grades

  • The big issues are adjusting to a new teacher and studying and doing homework again after the summer. Remember, your child may like the teacher less because more work is expected. Discuss expectations of a new grade and curriculum.
  • Remind your child that the first few weeks may be a review of last year’s concepts which can be very helpful to the new year’s progress. Go over homework routines and review memos from your child’s teacher together to make expectations clear.
  • Some students in the fourth and fifth grades may be excited over switching classes for the first time. Students may need to figure out strategies for keeping track of homework assignments from different teachers and adjust to different teaching styles.
  • Parents may need to adjust to the fact their children do not wish to share the details about school that they used to when they were younger. This is not a rejection; it’s developmentally appropriate.

Middle School

  • Preteens and teens do better in school when parents are involved in their academic lives. Attend Back-to-School Night and Parent-Teacher Conferences as a great way to get to know your child’s teachers and their expectations.
  • Remember that many middle schools only set up parent-teacher conferences if parental involvement is needed to address issues like behavior problems, falling below grade-level expectations, or alternatively, benefiting from advanced class work. If you need more communication, you can request meetings with teachers, principals, school counselors, or other school staff any time during the school year.
  • If your child has special learning or behavioral needs, meetings may be scheduled with teachers and other school staff to discuss IEPs, 504 accommodations or gifted education.
  • Knowing the physical layout of the school building and grounds can help you connect with your child as well as keep him/ her comfortable about moving locations. It’s good to know the location of the main office, school nurse, cafeteria, gym, athletic fields, auditorium, and special classes.
  • Look at the school website with your child to view the school calendar, the school staff, special events, testing dates and sign-up information and schedules for sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities. Many teachers maintain their own websites that provide access to textbooks and resources, detail homework assignments, and test and quiz dates.
  • Talk to your child about his/ her school day. Ask specific questions to draw out your child. Avoid “yes or no” questions.
  • Give your child a quiet place to study and do homework. Find an area in your home that is free of distraction where your middle schooler can concentrate on homework. Be available to help if your child has a question.
  • Check your child’s homework, but don’t do it for him/her. Offer to check math problems, proofread written papers, and look over spelling words. If you find a mistake, point it out to your child and help to figure out the correct answer.
  • Post a family calendar in a central place. Write down important school dates, including parent meetings, due dates for projects, and tests. Encourage your middle schooler to add to the calendar and to check it daily

High School

  • Listen to your teen talk about what is happening in class even if you do not understand a subject such as physics or early American literature.
  • Listen to what your teen is saying about situations outside of class without immediately judging or offering advice. Help your teens put their concerns or problems into words and encourage them to figure out possible solutions or coping strategies.
  • Encourage your teen to join a club or sport at school. Outside activities are educational and often increase interest in school.
  • Try to find at least one teacher with whom you can communicate regularly for updates or advice on your teen’s general well-being in high school.
  • Help your teen to develop habits and strategies for greater achievement while encouraging taking responsibility for work. The ultimate goal is to help your child become self-sufficient manager of time and resources in order to get the most out of high school.
  • Keep tabs on school attendance. Check report card attendance reports. If you suspect a problem, immediately call the school. Do not encourage your child to skip school for special trips or activities not related to school such as a family vacation or an outing with friends. That makes school seem less important than having fun.
  • Make sure your teen gets plenty of sleep. Recent studies show that teenagers need nine or more hours of sleep nightly.
  • Help your teen keep an assignment calendar and divide the big projects into small tasks and develop a time line to accomplish projects, reports, presentations and papers. These tips are drawn from many sources and should enable parents to think of how to best assist in starting off the school year on a super successful path.

There are so many ways to help your child be the best student he or she can be. Being involved is the most important. Try to listen more and play more and you will notice a difference. Have a great school year!

List of Walton County Public Elementary Schools

Bay Elementary School
118 Gilmore Rd
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Grades PK-4

Freeport Elementary School
15381 Us Hwyy 331 South
Freeport, FL 32439
Grades PK-4

Maude Saunders Elementary School
416 John Baldwin Rd
Defuniak Springs, FL 32433
Grades PK-5

Mossy Head School
13270 Us Hwy 90 West
Defuniak Springs, FL 32433
Grades PK-5

Paxton School
21893 Us Hwy 331 North
Paxton, FL 32538
Grades PK-12

Van R. Butler Elementary School
6694 West County Hwy 30a
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Grades PK-4

West Defuniak Elementary School
815 Lincoln Ave
Defuniak Springs, FL 32435
Grades PK-5

Walton Virtual School Full Time
145 Park St
Defuniak Springs, FL 32435
Grades KG-12

Walton Academy, Inc. Alternative School
Charter School
389 Dorsey Ave
Defuniak Springs, FL 32435
Grades 6-12

Emerald Coast Middle School
4019 Us Hwy 98e
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Grades 5-8

Seaside Neighborhood School Charter School
10 Smolian Circle
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Grades 6-10

Freeport Middle School
360 Kylea Laird Dr
Freeport, FL 32439
Grades 5-8

Walton Learning Center Alternative School
86 Gene Hurley Rd
Defuniak Springs, FL 32435
Grades 6-12

Walton Middle School
625 Park Ave
Defuniak Springs, FL 32435
Grades 6-8

Chautauqua Learn and Serve at The Arc Of Walton Co High School Special Education School
Charter School
286 Gene Hurley
Defuniak Springs, FL 32435
Grades 9-12

Freeport Senior High School
12615 Us Hwy 331 South
Freeport, FL 32439
Grades 9-12

South Walton High School
645 Greenway Trl
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Grades 9-12

Walton Career Development Center Vocational School
761 North 20th St
Defuniak Springs, FL 32433
Grades 9-12

Walton High School
449 Walton Rd
Defuniak Springs, FL 32433
Grades 9-12

Walton Initiative for Success in Education (wise) Alternative School
555 Walton Rd
Defuniak Springs, FL 32433
Grades PK-12

Walton Learning Center Alternative School
286 Gene Hurley Rd
Defuniak Springs, FL 32435
Grades 6-12

Walton Virtual School Full Time The Walton County School District offers individual courses (up to a full schedule) through the Walton Virtual School to public, private and home school students that are in grades 6-12.

Private Schools
Christian International Academy
5200 US-98
Santa Rosa Beach Florida
850 231-2660
Grades K-12

Cornerstone Church & Academy
2042 FL-83
Defuniak Springs, FL
850 892-2240
Grades PK-12

First Christian Academy
216 Live Oak Ave E
Defuniak Springs, FL
850 892 2722
Grades K-4

Gateway Academy
122 Poinciana BLVD
Miramar Beach, FL
850 654 9095
Pre K, 5-8

Galilean Academy
Bob Sikes Rd & I 10,
De Funiak Springs, FL
850 8923421

South Walton Montessori Academy
101 Eden Gardens Rd
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
(850) 231-5955

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