It’s a new school year and that sense of great possibility is strong! There are many things floating around the internet about back to school success. Many things that are said are tried and true. As parents, we probably know we should have our children eat a good breakfast; get enough rest; have a specific place and time to do homework; encourage a good balance between activities and down time; communicate well with teachers about our child’s specific needs, etc. But one article I read brought all this together in a more compelling way. “10 Steps to School Year Success,”
In summary the “she knows “ editors suggested the following things:
- Establish consistent routines. This means being cognizant of not only your children’s but your own activity load, to establishing a consistent time for homework, dinner, and rest for all. Seeing how everyone’s designated activities fits in the overall scheme of things and keeping things moderate and realistic help everyone’s needs get met.
- Set reasonable bedtimes: Poor sleep effects young and old, with bad behavior and problems with learning in the younger set and accidents, illness, and poor work performance in adults who do not get enough rest. Set a bedtime and stick to it! According to the National Sleep Foundation, 10 to 12 hours is recommended for elementary school aged students. Experts say add ten to twenty minutes to the time it takes your child to fall asleep, when coming up with the right bed time. -Probably no later than 8:30 for this age group.
- Learn to say “no”: We live in an age where child and adult alike have a myriad of activities to choose from. The editors of this article suggest, as would “slow family movement” proponents that children and families need more downtime with one another, instead of more activities. This is where real reflection and learning are allowed to occur (not to mention quality family time) as children and parents have a chance to digest the day.
- Limit t.v. time: This speaks for itself, with the added point that children learn best by being actively involved in what they are doing( reading, drawing, playing, building, talking, and exploring). Television makes all of us inactive observers.
- Encourage reading: One of the strongest predictors of academic success is reading. When parents ask teachers how they can get their children to learn in school, teachers often reply, “Get them reading!” Why: Reading opens new world and ideas for children; builds vocabularies; gets them critically thinking; improves their memory; and grows their imagination.
- Support your child’s teacher: Unfortunately, our current times are finding teachers at the receiving end of a lot of criticism. When children, teachers, and parents work together and support one another, success is far more likely.
- Enlist support: We all seem to be in overdrive, as we navigate our days. Who isn’t overwhelmed at times, as they multitask through the day? Do not be afraid to ask a family member or friend for help and be that family member or friend who will help when you can!
- Practice what you preach: Model what you ask of your child in terms of your manner; your work habits; and the way you treat your partner and them. Children copy us and our practices.
- Plan ahead: The adage, fail to plan, plan to fail holds true. If you can anticipate contingencies in life and plan around them, you and your child will be better off. For example, it’s probably not the best time to start dance lessons or a new sport when state assessments are going on. Wait till they are over if possible. Or even with simple things like the weather, be planful. If you drive your child to school every day, plan for fog, slushy, slippery roads or even nice weather that may mean roadwork.
- Keep your eye on the prize: Education is really one of our children’s largest gateways to success in life. If we want our children to succeed, keep the big picture in mind. By doing everything we can to help our children be successful in school and combining it with a healthy, family life outside of school, we are going a long way to helping them do well now and then do well later.