With back-to-school excitement fading, now is a good time to consider the ways you can help your kids adjust. Whether your children are in kindergarten or seniors in high school, consider these five ways that you can help your kids have the most successful school year yet.
Establishing – and sticking to – a routine has been part of your child’s life since infancy. Just because he or she is now in middle school doesn’t mean a steady routine is no longer important. Kids of all ages thrive when they know what to expect. Set a bedtime routine that includes getting clothes and homework ready for the next day, as well as a morning routine that includes 15 to 20 minutes of “cushion time” for any delays. An after-school routine should include emptying backpacks, having a healthy snack, and settling into homework.
Morning chaos is inevitable, but you can help keep it to a minimum by having a designated place for the things you already know you’ll need every day. Create a family command center with things like a paperwork “inbox” for each member of the family’s permission slips and school forms, a large calendar, baskets, and bins. Customize it for your family, and keep it up-to-date and interesting with motivational quotes or jokes. Outside of school, you can help students focus by designating a homework station, whether it’s a desk or stretch of kitchen counter. Outfit it with all of the tools necessary for the task, from sharp pencils and paper to markers, scissors, and glue.
Making sure students get enough sleep and eat a healthy breakfast in the morning ensures a strong start to the school day. You can keep classroom (and bus, locker room, and gym) germs at bay by recruiting everyone’s help. Remind your kids to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer throughout the day, and once they’re home, encourage the habit of leaving shoes at the door and washing hands before doing anything else—especially before eating that after-school snack.
Go beyond simply meeting the teachers by keeping in regular contact with them. Most teachers today respond reliably to email, so you can ask questions about what is being taught and what you can do to support the teacher from home. Keeping the door of communication open makes it easier for teachers to reach out to you if they have any concerns about your child, too.
Avoid asking your student a ho-hum “How was school today?” that usually elicits a ho-hum, “Fine.” Instead, ask open-ended questions that encourage kids to tell you more about the day. Try things like, “What was the best part of your day?” or “What made you laugh today?” or “What’s something new you learned?”
Probably the most important thing that parents can do to ensure students’ school success is to set high expectations. This doesn’t mean demanding their kids be at the top of the class, or setting unrealistic goals. Rather, parents who set high expectations communicate with kids that school is their job, and that it’s important to do their best in order to feel proud of their accomplishments.
By setting clear expectations and creating a home environment that promotes learning, you can build a strong foundation for success.