Recently, I was listening to a mom complain that her daughter had not learned ANYTHING in school– FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS! And guess what? She is convinced that this year will be the same.
At the risk of sounding fed-up, I must admit that I do not blame this mother for her attitude. After working in the education sector for the past 10 years, I’ve found that this mother’s concern is all too common. As a former teacher, parents would often confide in me that they were at a stand-still and did not know what to do to help their children achieve academic success. They saw excuses being made at every corner and were frustrated by the endless blame-chain. The magic question becomes: what are parents going to do about it?
In order to help your kids get set-up for success this years, let’s stop making excuses. This is a no-more excuses blog. Let’s interact with our kids’ teachers. Let’s hold people responsible where responsibility is due. No more will we accept the excuse of ‘the dog ate my homework.’ We need to find a way for each child to benefit from our education system and it all starts with advocacy. Let’s become involved in our children’s academic careers by being their personal cheerleaders and advocates. Are you ready? Let’s get started!
Here are five strategies that will help your kids start this school year off on the right foot:
1. Get your kids excited about school supply shopping! We all know that dragging children with us from store to store can be a long, drawn out and sometimes frustrating experience. But the benefits of allowing them to choose their supplies are enormous. They will become excited, take better care of their materials and use them more frequently. Ultimately, this encourages children to be actively involved and responsible for their own education.
2. Get your kids into a routine before school begins. At least one week before the first day of classes, begin to implement an earlier bedtime and a morning schedule. Go over your child’s routine for the school year. When will homework time be? Will a tutor be needed? Is there an after school program to attend? What time is dinner? When will bedtime be? Answering all of these questions will help define your child’s routine, providing a sense of stability and reducing stress for everyone.
3. Discuss the expectations for the upcoming school year. Children are more likely to do well academically when they work in structured, clearly defined environments. Make sure your child knows what can be done if there is trouble or difficulty meeting these expectations.
4. Show your child that you are excited about the back-to-school season! Our children feed off of our emotions and behaviors. Model the attitude that you would like your child to exhibit during the upcoming school year. Don’t forget, it’s okay to over-exaggerate being excited, happy and optimistic!
5. Give your child a supportive pep-talk. Explain that you will be actively involved in their school life and that you want to make sure they’re getting everything that is needed. You will be there for support, to talk to teachers on their behalf, arrange for tutoring if necessary and be their number one fan!
School life is not always easy but having a game plan makes a difference! Please remember that there is no single or perfect solution but that advocating for your child will create positive change. And of course, advocating means taking responsibility; you can teach your child first-hand how not to blame the dog.