Back To School: Setting Your Child Up For Success

Back To School:  Setting Your Child Up For Success

For many kids, school is just around the corner.  A new school year brings a great deal of anticipation, anxiety, and excitement.  Seeing friends daily, the scent of new crayons, sharpened pencils, and backpacks that are waiting to be filled only touch the surface of the new school year.  In order to make the transition from summer to school, please see tips below to ensure your child is off to the best start.

1.  The Teacher:  Teacher assignments are typically sent out a week prior to beginning school.  In most communities, parents share their stories (whether they be horrible or amazing) about teachers in the building.  Although it is important to discuss teacher effectiveness, keep in mind there is a time and place for this type of discussion.  The time and place to discuss these issues are critical.  Students should not be exposed to a parent's judgment of their child's new teacher.  If a parent shows he/she is distraught, sad, and/or angry with the new teacher, the student will walk into the classroom with preconceived notions before he/she has even met the teacher.  If parents feel like screaming or crying over a teacher, please, consider your child and save the drama for a private time.

2.  Be aware of the neighborhood gossip about a teacher:  Every child will have a different experience with his/her new teacher.  Various factors play into this new relationship, as every bond is different.  Don't assume that your child will have a bad time because your neighbor's child did.  Every child is unique, thus unique relationships are born.  Ignore the gossip and make your own judgments; you may be happily surprised with the outcome.

3.  Help your child to prepare both mentally and physically:  Move bedtimes back a few minutes every night so your child's internal clock begins to move accordingly.  Wake up a bit earlier too, eat breakfast and practice morning routines.  A relaxed morning can do wonders for a child before they go to school.  Start the day off on a calm and positive note.

4.  Reading:  Although your child should have been reading during the summer, if she/he has not, begin with required reading 10-20 minutes per day from a real book (not the computer).

5.  Refresh their math memories now:  Take out the flashcards, sing number songs, and provide problems accordingly.  Parents should choose material that was covered in the last trimester of school, as to refresh memories and make the transition a bit easier.

6.  Guide your child in setting goals now:  Sit down with your child and request he/she self-reflect on his/her academic work and achievements from the prior year.  Let your child choose 3 goals for the first trimester of school.  Discuss a pathway to accomplish these goals, tools required, and how they will be evaluated for outcomes.  This type of goal setting can be modified accordingly to age/grade level.

7. Make sure your child knows he/she can talk with you about anything: Always be there for your child in both mind and heart.  Pay attention to what he/she has to say, rather than solely hearing and doing the 'ugh ha'.

8.  Set them up for success by providing a solid routine:  Provide academic/social expectations, discuss social rules, and know his/her schedule.

9.  Be their partner and advocate:  Be a partner in their learning by guiding, monitoring and facilitating work.  Do not become a helicopter parent or a parent who disappears.  Advocate for your child all of the time.  Look out for their best interests and don't be afraid to speak up.  Now more than ever, students need someone who will advocate for them on their behalf.

10.  Finally, enjoy learning with your child for the sole reason of learning:  Be the epitome of a life long learner.  Teach them to appreciate learning for what it is, not for the prize waiting at the end of the rainbow that never was.

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