How can Parents help their children to experience success at school?
In many parts of the world, this time of year marks the wind-down to summer holidays and the wind-up for back to school preparations. For some of us Moms, this is the first time our little ones will be strapping on the backpack and carrying the lunch box as they newly enter the school system. For others of us, our children are more in-step with the back to school routines and may carry a mixed bag of emotions about their return to the classroom. For both the novice and the expert school-goer, one point remains the same: parents can greatly contribute to the educational success of their little learners. Following are a few suggestions to help your child start the school year off (and keep it going) on a positive note.
Getting Back into School Mind Set
If your home is anything like mine, summer holidays meant staying up late, sleeping in and living life on the cuff. Routines were out the door. To help your child prepare for back to school, about one week before school begins, ease your child back into the school time lifestyle and set up predictable routines that your child can grow to depend on. Think about creating limited “screen time,” definite reading time (10-20 minutes each evening is ideal!) and a set hour for bed. When the first day of school rolls around, the onslaught of NEW! NEW! NEW! will be a lot easier to handle if the home routines are already in place.
Nourishment for the Learner’s Brain
What a child eats before school and during school can greatly impact their success as learners. I encourage parents of my students to think of school hour food as “learning fuel for the brain.” Begin the day with a solid, healthy breakfast.When packing food for their nourishment breaks, (lunch, snack) avoid sugary, processed foods. Instead, opt for nutrient rich fuel foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grain foods. I like to share with my students the health benefits of the strawberry and banana (Google the food you eat- you will be amazed by what a strawberry naturally offers your body, and what a ripe banana packs in its yellow package!) so that they understand that we eat for both nutrition and enjoyment. Talking about and practicing healthy food choices will not only help your child through the school days, but you will also help to establish a positive, healthy relationship with food that will serve them throughout their lives.
The Parent Teacher Partnership
A child’s success in school is often greatly linked to the partnership parents establish with the classroom teacher. Set an appointment to get to know the teacher and to help them know about the learner you are entrusting in their care. Share any pertinent information about home life that could impact your child’s learning. Read communication that comes home, attend open house sessions at school, and offer your services to the classroom. Find out how the teacher would prefer communication to take place, and share the best way/time to reach you should the teacher need to speak with you about your learner. Your child will pick up on your trust levels and attitude toward the teacher, and will likely carry it back to school; if you do have concerns, try to avoid sharing them with your child so that she can form her own relationship with the teacher.
As you are engaging with the teacher, remember that the teacher is your partner: you both want your child to experience success and happiness.
Support Your Child’s Learning
Be aware of what your child is learning at school and continue the learning at home. As a teacher, I always try to send suggestions for “home school connection” in my weekly newsletters. For instance, if we are learning about measurement, I might suggest that parents mark miles/kilometers with their children when driving, and engage their child in the cooking process at home. Whatever our unit of study may be, I ask parents to share with their child relevant news articles that they find, or to go on family excursions that would support the learning. Homework is a great way to be clued in to what your child is learning. I encourage parents to establish homework routines, and to check that their child’s work is complete each evening, asking questions about what the child has studied.
Model Life Long Learning at Home
Children who see learning as a life long endeavor are more likely to engage in, and enjoy the process of learning at school. If a child sees that their parents are always trying to learn something new, and if the parents shares the successes and challenges of this, the child will see that we are all always learners. Try a new sport, experiment with new recipes and food styles, watch TED Talks and talk about them with your child, read professional and self-growth books and share your learning. Demonstrate to your child that you are also a learner who is eager to soak up what the world has to offer! Your positive attitude about learning is likely to be the attitude that your child will emulate!
Fifteen years in the education world and five years as mother to Edem, Kindergarten student, have taught me a lot about education and the role parents/home life can play in a child’s success as a learner.
While there is so much more that can be said on the topic, the most important thing to remember is that parents and teachers all have the same goal in mind: raising global citizens who are poised to have a positive impact on the world.
By working together and establishing a positive collaborative relationship between parent/teacher/learner, our children are far more likely to experience success in their educational careers, laying the foundation for later success in life.
How do you prepare for back to school?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Lady E. To read more of Erin’s work, head over to her personal blog, Common Threads.
Photo credit goes to the author.