With the school year starting (or for some of you it has already begun) I wanted to give you a few tips, from a teacher’s point of view, that will bring a successful (and easier) year for both your child and yourself. Many of these tips you may already do, and many of you may think these are obvious, but as a teacher I feel I need to get the word out!
- Communication with your child’s teacher and school is CRITICAL.
- If you have an at risk child, it is IMPERATIVE that you get in to see your child’s teacher as soon as possible to give them a heads up and to come up with a plan of attack, together, that will ensure an easier transitional time for your child. Please, please don’t wait until parent-teacher conferences to inform a teacher of issues that your child might have. Also, please don’t expect your child’s teacher to figure it out on his/her own. Even if you think the issues are small, I encourage you to sit down with the teachers and discuss concerns you have before hand. By doing this, several positives will come from it. One, the teacher will have a better understanding of your child and, in turn, will already have an idea of how to handle situations that will arise. Secondly, the teacher will feel more comfortable contacting you more quickly, when situations arise. Thirdly, your child will feel a sense of security knowing that you and the teacher are communicating back and forth.
- If you don’t have an at risk child, it is still very important for communication. Let’s be real, most parents will contact the teacher when there is a concern. But if you are fortunate enough to have a child that comes home enthusiastic about what he/she has learned, send a quick note or email to that teacher, informing them of that. We, as teachers, may never know if something positive has occurred with a child. And sometimes, we just need encouragement as the year progresses. Please, take time to say "Thank you"!
- If something as happened in your home life, believe it or not, even the smallest of changes may have an impact on your child in school. Let your child teacher know right away, so that if teacher notices anything out of the ordinary, he/she will have a better understanding on how to help your child through it.
- Communication is such a critical topic and so broad, that I could go on and on and if you have a more specific question about communication, please contact me and I will address it.
2. Have a good attitude about school and teacher (kid picks up on that).
- After good communication, I feel this is the second MOST important key to a successful school year. As a guardian of a teenager (a few years ago) and a parent myself, I understand that sometimes you may not agree with a decision of a teacher, but to allow your child to know that does damage almost beyond repair. I would ask of you to address all concerns with your child’s teacher, and continue to stay positive with your child during that time and to uphold the respect of the teacher in your communication with your child. Disrespect of the teacher often times leads to poor performance of the child in the classroom. It is also a great life lesson to teach your child early on that, yes, people may disagree with each other, but you can still respect each other!
- Along the same lines, knowing every teachers name is so important. I can’t tell you how many times a parent would come in to pick a child up for an early dismissal and when asked what the homeroom teacher’s name was, they didn’t know. That apathy is translated down to the student. And often times there was a correlation from that to the performance of the student in the classroom. Know the names of all the teachers that your child has. Speak about them often during dinner time or in the car. Ask about specific teachers often. When your child speaks about math, incorporate the math teacher’s name into the conversation. This translates to your child that school is important, but also that he/she is important to you because you take interest in their schooling.
3. Make attending all school functions a priority.
- I know how busy your lives are and trust me coming home from work and then turning around to run up to a school function is not your ideal evening. But again, it translates to your child that school is important and also again that your child is important! Being involved in your child’s school academic activities will have a very positive impact on your child’s schooling. You wouldn’t miss a soccer game or band performance right, so the same importance needs to be put on academics.
4. Don't overdo extra curriculars!
- I am all for extra curriculars, but within reason. I have had many parents ask if their child could get extra time on an assignment because their child had soccer (basketball, football you can fill in the bland here) practice late the night before. Unfortunately soccer isn’t a priority, believe or not. It is a time-management teachable moment. We all have deadlines and the sooner your child understands how to make time for the important things, the more success he/she will be in school.
- Also, don’t have your child in so many activities that they are spread thin. We know how it feels to be spread too thin sometimes, and unfortunately children don’t have the capacity yet to handle that stress. Negative outcomes will occur in academics, health and/or relationships because of this stress.
5. Make homework a priority.
- Set aside a specific time and place to get homework done. Make sure it is a quiet, safe, well lit area. I would suggest giving your child a small amount of time after school to unwind, either with a favorite activity or program - something that they enjoy doing in the down time - and a healthy snack. With the goal in mind of getting all homework done before dinner time so the rest of the evening can be restful and enjoyable for your child.
6. Read with your child every night
- Whether you read to them or with them, making leisure reading time for at least 15 minutes a night will boost their learning in ways that are amazing. It also allows you to show, through example, that reading is important AND enjoyable! Items can include magazine, newspapers or books!
These are just a few items that can help your child have a more successful school year. If you work on these with your child, I guarantee it will not only bring you and your child closer together, but you will see a very positive outcome in your child’s schooling!!
Are there any things that you do that you have found to work well with your children's success in school? I (and my readers) would love to hear from you!
Sneak peak to next week, I will be covering ideas on studying tips and reading instruction.