You do a lot to get your kids ready for school – buying school supplies, making lunches, and enforcing bedtimes. It is a transition and I love sharing how we have done it over the past 18 years in our home.
But there’s more to helping your child succeed in school than No. 2 pencils and a coordinating outfit. It’s just as important that students arrive at school with a positive attitude and enthusiasm for learning.
If you were to ask school teachers how to make sure kids walk into the classroom ready to learn and perform at their best, I know the five tips below would be on their list!
1. Fine-Tune Your Morning Routine
A well-oiled morning routine is extremely important; one that starts the minute a child’s feet – and yours – hit the floor. It’s when we are rushing and doing things last minute that stress starts to mount, arguments happen, and kids can get upset. (We recently began using this timer with my five year old – we had the pig timer, but this is much better for time management!) This is carried with them into the classroom and the day begins on the wrong foot. I am sure you have had mornings which you can attest to this – I know I sure have.
You can help make mornings less stressful by making sure everyone gets a good night’s sleep and by organizing as much as possible ahead of time. Pack lunches the night before and lay out clothes. Have your kids fill their backpacks and line them up by the door. It’s amazing how attention to these little details can help the morning go more smoothly.
Finally, don’t forget the most important item of all on a winning morning agenda: a good breakfast. Keep healthy cereals (this is one of our favorite gluten-free and organic cereals that won’t break the bank!) and fresh fruit on hand, and stock your refrigerator with proteins that are easy to prepare.
I like these Healthy Egg Muffin Cups that I can whip up and put in the freezer – put a few in the toaster oven to heat up and you’re saving time and getting some good nutrition in.
2. Teach Self-Reliance
Every step of the educational journey should take your child closer to self-sufficiency. As he gets older, he’ll need to make more and more decisions on his own, and you want him to be ready. Your child’s early school years provide the perfect opportunity to work with his teachers to help him learn to take responsibility for himself.
Think of some tasks your child can handle: gathering and emptying wastebaskets from around the house, making his bed, or unloading the silverware from the dishwasher each morning. Taking responsibility for simple tasks like these will pay big benefits down the road.
Teachers often find children using excuses like, “My mother forgot to…” or “My mother didn’t…”. It is best to start to let your kids be responsible for themselves. They have to stop thinking their parents will swoop in to fix their missing assignments and low grades before the report card comes out.
When children take responsibility for their own learning, they will work to earn good grades rather than waiting until they receive bad grades to make studying a priority. Parents should encourage their children to become more independent learners as they get older but recognize that it will take time for them to become truly self-reliant.
3. Set a Good Example
Many teachers agree that reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do to help your child be prepared for school. Reading to a child instills a love of reading – the basis for all learning – and opens a child’s imagination.
Make sure your children see you reading if you expect them to. Why not read the same book as a family and start an at-home book club or read around the dinner table?
4. Support the Teacher
There may come a point in your child’s education where you disagree with his teacher on some issue. That’s fine and not unexpected – people are bound to have different perspectives. The important thing to remember is not to talk negatively about the teacher in front of your children.
If you have an issue with a teacher, talk to the teacher or school administration privately. You don’t want your child to get the message that you think the teacher doesn’t know what she is doing. A child may lose respect for a teacher, which can contribute to behavior problems. It can also lower a student’s interest in school.
A positive attitude about school must be communicated at home. Keep a dialogue open between yourself and your child’s teacher through emails, scheduled meetings, even informal hellos and goodbyes at drop-off or pickup. Students must feel that parents and teachers are a team with them.
5. Don’t Diss Homework
In many homes, the very word “homework” is met with a groan. Stop to think about who makes the first complaint about homework. Is it you, the parent, or your student? As a parent, you help shape your child’s attitudes about education. That’s why it’s so important to keep a positive attitude about homework, as with all other things school-related.
Homework is a valuable aid in reinforcing what kids are learning in class, and it teaches responsibility, as well. It also helps develop positive study habits for the future, which we all want to see happen!
It’s best to create a homework schedule or have a plan in place and a designated area to study. Help teach your children how to plan out long-term assignments and break the workload into parts so they will be completed on time.