School will soon be in full swing and that means classwork, homework assignments, and tests. As your child learns and masters new lessons each day, they will have their skills and abilities tested. Their performance will depend on many things. A big portion of how well your child does in school depends on you. As a parent, and teacher, (I taught second grade, middle and high school Spanish), there are a few things you can do to ensure that your child has a good, academic year. Let’s take a look:
Meet the new teacher. This is a must! As a teacher, I highly recommend you meet your child’s teacher in the beginning of the school year. Get to know the person who is going to spend a large amount of time with your child during the course of a day. They may see your child more hours than you during the week, so, you want to know who this person is. Do not hesitate to stay in touch with your child’s teacher periodically by phone, email, or a hand-written note.
Attend Open House and PTA meetings. These gatherings offer a wealth of information such as school politics and policies. You get the opportunity to meet the principal, teachers, and other parents. It is also a great opportunity to volunteer and become active in school projects.
Observe a class. Teachers don’t mind if you make an appointment and come to visit your child’s class while it is in session. Of course, your child will be aware you are there, but, you can get some idea how the classroom is run and the teaching style by observing. Stay for at least 45 minutes. You need time to observe and assess what you see.
Ask your child questions. Upon arrival from school, or as soon as you can when you get home, ask your child what happened during the day. Be specific, because if you ask’ “What happened today in school?” they will say, “Nothing.” Questions, like, “What did you learn in Math today?” “Addition? ” “What was the title of the story you read in class today?” “What was your favorite part?” “Did you like the story?” “Give me one reason why?” By asking these brief questions, you are checking to see if your child is connected to the school work. You will soon find out the subjects they like and the ones they don’t like so much. Lastly, it shows your child you are concerned and you will ask questions. This is an important tip, so don’t skip it!
Serve a snack after school. My kids were hungry by the time they arrived home from school. When I was working, wherever they went after school, I packed another snack, in addition to lunch. Children can’t think on an empty tummy. They can become irritable and cranky. A light snack gives them the energy and ability to concentrate because homework will come next.
Do homework before playtime. Once they are outside and having fun, it can be difficult to reign them in to complete homework! Imagine, they are playing a game of kickball, running around with friends, having fun and you come out to say, “Time to come in and do your homework!” It might be tough to get their cooperation. Avoid this unpleasant scene- get them to do the homework before they go out to play. Then, it is done, and you don’t have to worry about being the bearer of bad news and end their fun!
Provide a proper environment. This is very important. Set aside an area that will be their designated place to do homework. Make sure it is clean, comfortable, well-lit, and quiet. Some kids like music, and that is OK, as long as the volume is down low while they work. I do not recommend the television, however, because it can be a distraction and before you know it, they are watching TV and have forgotten all about the homework. Also, come in periodically to check on your child and make sure they are staying on task. Avoid allowing them to eat or drink. Spilling food or drink on homework is an accident waiting to happen!
Pack up when homework is finished. I suggest that if your teacher does not require a homework folder, you go out and buy a pocket folder and label it “Homework.” Have your child put the homework in this folder, and immediately pack their backpack for school the next day. Getting into the habit of putting the homework in their folder and packing as soon as the homework is completed establishes a routine and helps them to learn how to be responsible for their work. Packing in the morning may create a stressful situation. More on stress, later.
Serve a nutritious dinner. Serving a well-balanced meal is essential for growing children. We all recognize the benefits of a healthy meal. It will help them to think better and perform better in school and at home. It will also help them to sleep better.
Set clothes or uniforms out before bed. We have all experienced waking up to a disastrous morning where nothing went right. Included in those bad times were wardrobe malfunctions. Eliminate stress and disorganization by planning and putting out what your child will wear before they go to bed. If they are old enough, let them help you.
Set a reasonable bedtime. Bedtime is tough, sometimes. A lot of children simply don’t want to go to bed. Or, they want to stay up for a popular TV show. If you do not want to pay the price the next day, establish a bed time right from the beginning. And, make sure you stick to it! Don’t let them get an extra hour out of you unless it is a reward, well- deserved, and you know they can handle it. Around Wednesday and Thursday, they could start getting tired, just like we do when we are working and the week seems to drag on. Keep this in mind because that is when they will really need their sleep. All 8-10 hours of it!
Let them set the alarm. Now that we live in an age of technology, a lot of children are what I call, “techno-savvy.” Their knowledge of computers begins at an early age. Start teaching your children responsibility for getting up on time, on their own. Let them set their alarm clock. Make sure you set an alarm, too. When it goes off, listen and see if they get up on their own. Of course, some will and some won’t! That’s why you are going to start now! Hopeful,in time, they will get up when the alarm sounds. Be patient! This takes some time!
Turn down the sound. Help your children get to sleep by keeping the noise level in your home down to a reasonable volume.
Eat breakfast. It is, without a doubt, the most important meal of the day, especially for children. Eating breakfast establishes good eating habits and equips your child to handle the day, to be alert, energetic, and productive.
Send them off with a big hug, in peace. As you see your children off to school, don’t forget to give them a big hug and kiss. This seals the day for me, and for them. I won’t see them for 6 to 8 hours and I want them to see a smile on my face as their last vision of me when they enter the school. Sometimes discipline is unavoidable, but I try not to discuss stressful topics before school. My goal is to separate on a positive note. And create peace that will set the tone and carry them through the day with confidence.
Children have a lot to deal with in the course of a day. Giving them the tools and the encouragement they need to make it and be successful in school is worth all the time and effort. It takes a lot of time, patience, and dedication, but, you find that in the long run. it does pay off!