By: Susan Stone Belton
Every parent wants his or her child to have a successful school year. Here are four lessons we can teach our kids at home, so they are better prepared for the lessons they learn at school.
1. Teach Your Children to be Organized
When children feel organized, are confident that they know what to do, and have all their needed materials, their confidence go up, and so does the quality of their work.
Prepare a checklist of things your child needs to bring to and from school every day. Put a copy by the door at home and one in his backpack. Check often to see if your child is remembering the items on the list.
Create a system with your child for recording their homework assignments. Even young children can use a planner or calendar.
Pack backpacks at night. Gym clothes, notes for the teacher, school books, and homework can be packed in the evening, leaving just a lunchbox to be added in the morning.
Design a plan for how kids will remember to turn in their completed assignments. Many kids do their homework, but fail to turn it in. A separate "Homework Binder" might help.
2. Teach Your Children to Manage Their Time Wisely
Some homework assignments are due in one week, two weeks, or longer. Teach your kids how to complete those assignments without waiting until the last minute.
Record all assignments on a calendar by breaking it down into small pieces. For a book report, the steps might be: choose the book, read the book, write the outline, create the cover page, type and print the report, put all the parts together.
Add "Work on book report" to the list of nightly assignments.
Plan how much time is needed for homework each night. Completing the toughest assignment first might work for some kids, while others will wait until after dinner for a parent to help with that one.
Use the "First this, and then that" method. "First you complete your homework and get your backpack ready for tomorrow, and then you can watch TV."
3. Teach Your Children How to Focus
While many teens do their homework in a sea of distractions, we need to limit the distractions that our younger kids experience.
Give your child a snack when they get home from school. It is hard to focus when hungry.
Keep the computer in a public place, and restrict the use of email or games while doing their work. You do not need to keep a constant vigil; you do need to check often. If they do make the choice to break the rule, then they will lose the use of the computer for fun that night.
Find a quiet place with few distractions for a homework station. Playful siblings and the TV can be huge distractions, and so the homework station should be fairly quiet.
4. Teach Your Children How to Enjoy School
Our children have many years of school ahead of them, and many get burned out at a young age. The goal of school is to learn to love learning, not to get straight A’s. It is our job to promote a healthy, fun, and encouraging attitude towards school.
Praise the effort, not the result. Hang some of their work on the fridge, and sometimes hang a paper with mistakes.
Ask your child to tell you one thing about school each day; they don’t have to share every detail.
Remember that it is your child’s assignment, not yours. Allow your kids to do their own work, supplying help when they ask for it. It’s okay if they make mistakes.
Volunteer at the school when possible, go to Back-to-School night, get to know the teachers and students, and support the school’s policies and rules.
Susan Stone Belton, Family Coach & Motivational Speaker is a certified Special Education Teacher with over 40 years experience working with families. She has presented hundreds of talks to Bay Area groups and works with individual families to help solve their parenting concerns. Susan is the author of “Real Parents, Real Kids, Real Talk”, a book for parents with children of every age.