You’ve packed the backpack, picked out first-day-of-school clothes and talked about before- and after-school routines and activities. Now, it’s all up to the teachers, right?
Sorry, it’s not that easy. The true recipe for academic success is one part educator, one part parents and one part student, with each contributor doing his or her part.
From kindergarten to senior high, the best outcomes result from working as a team.
Know what is expected
Start the school year off right by getting to know your child’s teacher and his or her expectations. A good way to do this is to attend school functions, such as back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences, even PTO meetings and read the information the teacher sends home.
Sitting down with young children and emptying out their backpack daily is a good way to ensure that important assignments and notes home get the attention they deserve.
With older students, keeping the lines of communication open can be harder. But even when your teen or preteen declares, “I don’t need your help,” his or her teacher may be saying, “Oh yes, you do.” That’s when it helps for parents and educators to have a good working relationship built on mutual respect. When a child won’t ask for help, sometimes the parents need to ask instead.
Share a meal
Sitting around the dinner or breakfast table provides an ideal opportunity to talk about the day’s events and plan for extracurricular events, large school projects, test preparation or family outings.
Ask specific questions about classes. How many times have you found yourself asking the question, “How was your day?” and hearing a grunt of “fine”? That exchange is devoid of information. Instead, ask your students what they are learning in each class. Ask which classes they like and which classes they don’t. Knowing what they don’t like or discovering what subjects may be presenting challenges is as important as celebrating their accomplishments. Together, come up with a plan to address areas that need improvement, and don’t forget to include your child’s teacher in your strategy.
Students who are not well rested have a harder time paying attention and staying on task. Experts recommend 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night for school-age children. Set curfews, limit screen time for at least 30 minutes prior to bed and remove distractions, such as phones and gaming equipment, from your child’s room or lock the devices after a certain time of night.
Foster good study habits
Kids don’t know good study habits intrinsically. Parents should teach and show their children how to study, particularly for tests. Teachers can provide study guides and review material in class but studying for a test involves the student going back over old material and checking themselves to make sure they know it. Practice, as they say, can make even homework perfect.