As parents look for last minute supplies and students pack up their backpacks to head back to school this week, we’re thinking about what educators, school staff, students, and families will be bringing to school this year as we work together to make sure school is safe, supportive, respectful, and engaging for everyone. Throughout King County, Best Starts for Kids has built partnerships with over 205 schools and school partners. These partnerships bring communities, schools and school districts, and families together to embrace a whole school, whole child approach to education.
In honor of the start of the school year, we created a Best Starts for Kids back to school packing list. Together, the items on this list provide a platform for students to not only achieve academically, but grow into happy, healthy, thriving young people.
What’s on your packing list for making school safe, supportive, respectful, and engaging this year? Let us know!
1. Belief in every student’s ability to succeed and thrive
Together, we’re making sure every time students walk in the school doors, they hear the message that they are welcome, valued, and capable. From systems-level changes like implementing restorative justice alternatives to suspension and punitive discipline, to culturally responsive programs and curricula, the partnerships we’ve helped to build between schools and community-based organizations help to ensure every student has the opportunity to build self-confidence and feel supported throughout the school day.
2. Easy access to health care
Health clinics in schools allow young people to access the care they need where they are. School-based health centers work with school staff and students to ensure young people are healthy, in class, and connected with any additional supports they might need. As school starts this year, we’re proud to say that more students will have access to critical health services like annual check-ups or vaccinations, as well as counseling and other important mental health services. Three new Best Starts-funded school-based health centers are up and running in Bellevue, Renton, and Vashon Island, and 12 existing school-based health centers have expanded services to meet students’ needs.
3. Someone to talk to, and extra support when it’s needed
Beginning this year, middle school students in over 40 King County schools will have more access to mental health screening and services at their school. We’re expanding a program to give middle school students the opportunity to talk about things that are going well in their lives, discuss challenges, and build strengths to cope with stress and achieve their goals.
Check out the video below, and click here to learn more about Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Services.
4. After school learning and enrichment
We know that kids don’t stop learning at the end of the school day. In addition to providing academic support, quality after school programs allow children and young people to continue learning and exploring after the bell rings at the end of the day. We’re partnering with Schools Out Washington and 32 community-based organizations to expand programs that complement and enhance what kids learn during school, building science and technology skills, exploring arts education, and connecting kids to mentoring and leadership opportunities.
5. Snack breaks and play time
Healthy snacks and opportunities to get up and get moving throughout the school day make it easier for students to focus in class and get the most out of their learning. We’re partnering with schools and community-based organizations to improve physical education programs, make it easier for students to get moving during the school day, and increase access to healthy, culturally relevant foods at school.
Check out the video below, and click here to learn more about Healthy and Safe Environments.