Just like the holidays and the New Year brim bright with promise, potential, and a chance to start again, the dawn of a new school year holds bright for me and many a parent. As new school clothes are donned and fresh pencils, crayons, folders, and notebooks are placed in the bag,, we can all begin again. For me, like many a parent, life trips me up sometime between a few weeks in and a few weeks out. How do we best keep our children on course when this occurs? The American Academy of Pediatrics website: shares their recipe for success with their article “Ten Tips for School Success”.
First off, they mention enforcing healthy habits. It is a no brainer that a well rested, well nourished, and healthy child fares best in school. The child who goes to school on an empty belly, a donut, sleep deprived, and with non-charged batteries, courtesy of too much time in front of the television, video game, or computer is a child with a large strike against them.
Secondly, the article mentions sticking to a routine. Kids thrive on a routine. While they vary house to house, when a child has a predictable routine, they have stability and security. It may be simple or more involved, but it needs to be there!
Third, the experts talk about creating a “launch pad” or staging area for backpacks and lunch packs. With such a place, parents and children know where to find homework, lunches, projects, notes, etc. One central area means much less confusion and chaos during the earliest part of the day.
Fourth, the article mentions having a designated space at home for homework. At school, your child has a desk or a table where the day’s assignments. A well lit, quiet, distraction free desk or table allows our children the chance to give it their all, without the cell phone going off; the e-mail coming in; or the home phone or television screaming at everyone.
Fifth, the article gets into reading, reading, and more reading. While our children learn to read their first few years in school, they then spend their later years reading to learn. When we read with our children and encourage their reading, we are keeping a pivotal conduit open for knowledge, learning, and excitement to increase knowledge and learn. Also, try to make it fun and not successful. If your child isn’t big on reading, read something that most interests them or cracks them up. Maybe it is sports scores or the Sunday comics? Also let them see you read!
Sixth, the article emphasizes teachable moments at home. Everyday, everywhere, is full of teachable moments. Perhaps cooking together or a trip to the supermarket spurs a discussion that gets mathematic, as fractions or cost savings are involved. Maybe it opens up a discussion about different cultures and foods. Every opportunity is ripe for learning! Perhaps a ride to practice or school spurs a discussion about a problematic situation. The article discusses the importance of trying to reach our children, wherever they are at, with different feelings and events in their life. Car rides are an excellent way to elicit feedback from the tween, teen, or quiet child, as indirect communication may be easier than face to face. Certain children also seem to open up more when they are first awake, or last asleep. The academy really encourages us parents to tap into these times. They encourage parents to talk often with both our children and their teachers. If the lines of communication are truly open between parents and teachers, any possible concern or issue that arises will be that much easier to address for both parties.
They also encourage parents to take the lead. Like everything else, children copy what they see. If we want them to have a strong work ethic, may they see us hard at work, on real things, real skills, not Facebook or texting. Lastly, the encourage us to plan for and think of success for our children. If our perspective is that our children will be successful at school and whatever they chose to do in life, our thoughts and expectations become powerful motivators and shape shifters, so to speak. When we believe in our children, they are more likely to believe in themselves. Sadly, the opposite is true.
While life will inevitably stay busy and take on a different flavor of busy than summer, this article has some great anchoring points. When things get rocky and adrift, I will re read or keep a copy close by. Happy new school year!