I used to love the first day of school. The anticipation of the unknown mingled with the excitement of seeing my friends always created a sleepless night and an exciting morning!
As a former teacher I also loved the first day of school. Each year was a new beginning; a clean slate with a whole new group of students. The start of a year of endless possibilities.
As a mother I have mixed emotions about my little ones first day of school. She still has a few more months until she turns three and has her first day of preschool, but I’m already feeling quite nostalgic as I begin to tour preschools and think about my little girl being old enough to go off on her own to explore this big world.
I want my daughter to have great success as a student, so I often find myself thinking back to my days of teaching and what I learned in the classroom. What things did I observe and gather through those years that I feel are crucial for helping my child to have a successful school year?
Here’s this former teacher’s tips to any momma who wants their child to have a successful year of school…
1. Gradually reintroduce your child to a school year schedule
Jumping from a carefree summer schedule to a school year schedule can be a shock to a little ones system. Take this next week and slowly start to adjust bedtimes and AM routines so that the actual transition will (hopefully) be much smoother!
2. Get your children to bed on time
Sleep is an essential element for success for any student. They need to be well rested in order to focus and be able to attend to their work. And they younger they are the harder it is for them to possess any form of self-control if sleep is lacking (any momma definitely knows this!).
3. Spend a few minutes each evening asking your child about their day
Listen to them as they share about their day. Get excited about the things that interest them. Look over their school work, praise them for a job well done, and figure out if there is anything they are not understand.
4. Create a central calendar and command center for the whole family
Make sure the calendar is located some place that is clearly visible and will be seen on a daily basis. Putting everyone’s schedule on one calendar will help you stay on top of important dates, tests, field trips, deadlines, etc. Create folders for each child where important papers, permission slips, etc. can be stored.
A personal favorite of mine for keeping a calendar organized is color-coding. It is a great excuse to use all those fun and colorful markers (hey you have to make it fun somehow!).
5. Don’t over schedule your kids
I’ve seen this happen far too often! A parent wants to make sure that their child has the opportunity to explore different interests, so they sign them up for everything under the sun. Before they know it every night is filled with something and they become a shuttle service shuffling tired kids to and from an endless parade of activities. Instead, pick one or two things that seem to interest your child. It will keep them (and you!) from getting burnt out and it will assure that they have sufficient time to focus on school and family time.
6. Don’t do everything for them
I taught fifth grade for several years and it was very apparent which students had parents who did almost everything for them. Whenever they were missing an assignment or didn’t get something in on time, the blame would almost always fall on their parents. It’s important that we teach our children personal responsibility and important life skills; everything from tying their own shoes to managing their time effectively.
And a few tips for those with older children…
1. Set aside a designated homework time
This is critically important, especially if you want to make sure that homework gets done on time. If a clear homework time is set from the beginning, a child will become accustomed to getting work done during that time and can begin to manage his/her own time more effectively.
2. Emphasize the importance of beginning to study for tests and completing projects well in advance
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen students rush to complete a project the night before it was due when it had been assigned three weeks before. The end result was a muddled mess and a frustrated student. If your child’s school doesn’t provide a planner, purchase one for them and begin teaching them how to affectively schedule out studying and working on long term assignments. This is a skill that has to be taught but is truly invaluable!
I hope that these tips help you as you think about what you can do, as a parent, to help your child have a successful school year. Any tips I’m missing? I’d love to hear from you!