It’s back-to-school time and every parent hopes their child will have a successful school year. There are many general strategies and some age appropriate tips to ensure that will happen.
In general, simply having a positive attitude towards the new school year is a great place to begin. Our children pick up on how we approach the school year. Do you dread it? Are you looking forward to the new experiences your child will have? Parents can set the tone and frame the school year for their children.
Did you have a good experience in school? If not, you will need to make a concerted effort to show that you believe school is a positive experience. Children are very perceptive and if you are negative towards the school experience, they will most likely notice that.
Will you be engaged in some way at your child’s school? Children whose parents visit the school during open house and parent/teacher conferences realize that their school matters and are more confident knowing their parents are spending time getting to know their teacher(s). Teachers also see that the parents are supporting the student’s efforts as well.
It is important to continue to show your interest in what your child does in school each day. When he comes home at the end of the day, spend some quality time in conversation with him about his day. Try not to rely on yes/no questions such as, “Did you have a good day today?” This stifles any conversation when he answers “Yes” or “No.” Instead, ask a leading question such as, “What was the most interesting this you learned about today?” or perhaps, “What did you learn about in science?”
Usually children will bring things home from school such as graded papers, weekly progress reports, or homework assignments. Spend part of your time looking over these items and talking with your child about them. Ask about any needs she may have coming up such as money for a field trip, supplies for a special project, etc.
If your child has homework, make sure you have prepared for that by creating a special place for work to be done (a desk or the dining room table before dinner). Review what homework he has and let him know you are available for help should he need some assistance.
Once homework is completed, allow your child some free time to participate in play with friends or extracurricular activities such as sports, scouts, or dance classes. These activities allow for socialization with friends outside of school and provide time to decompress after a long day at school.
Help your child begin each school day prepared by making sure book bags are packed the night before and school clothes are laid out in advance. This prevents the morning from becoming chaotic as everyone races around looking for that important field trip permission slip or signed report card to be returned.
Your elementary school children will enjoy the time and attention you demonstrate during the school year. Middle school and high school students will often tell parents they don’t want them very involved with their school, but those school years are also important and require parental involvement. That involvement is just demonstrated in a slightly less visible way.
The fact is that middle school and high school students do want to know their parents care about their school experience. Parents can join the PTA, become band, or football boosters, etc. to show support for their students’ schools. Students need to have more freedom but still require limits from time to time. They may balk at a reasonable curfew but be secretly glad you are holding them accountable. These experiences will help prepare them for adulthood that is right around the corner.
School is an exciting place filled with learning opportunities. Following some of these strategies will ensure a productive and successful year for you and your student.