One of my all time favorite songs is Bob Dylan’s, “The Times They Are A Changin’.” The message it carries is as profound today as it was more than fifty years ago. While I agree with the words in Mr. Dylan’s song, there are some things that have not changed for generations, among them is the key role that parents play in supporting their child’s academic and social success in school.
There can be no doubt that with today’s working parents and the myriad of after-school activities that fill a child’s day, trying to fit in additional support with homework, school projects, and responding to school notices can be an arduous task. However, there are a number of simple solutions that can be used to ease the burden of supporting the academic and social life of school.
After a long school day, children are often resistant to sitting down to do homework. They need time to relax, move about and have a snack. I realize that as children progress in school, the amount of homework increases accordingly, but regardless of the grade they are in, children like to have a chance to unwind. A snack before starting homework is a great way for parents and children to share events of the day. In my experience asking children about what they learned in school is a sure conversation stopper. Instead asking with whom they played or shared lunch is a conversation opener that will often help raise parental awareness of their child’s social well-being, an important element for success in school.
Establishing a quiet, well lit, place where children are able to concentrate on the task at hand is key to establishing good work habits. The space should have a calendar where children have a visual reminder of due dates for projects, book reports, and all school-related events, thereby enabling them to structure their time. A plastic bin with dividers for pencils, rulers, markers and crayons is a great way to keep school supplies handy and its compact nature enables parents to periodically check on and update its contents.
After homework and dinner are finished, engage in a family game. Games provide an excellent venue for lively conversation, as well as developing good sportsmanship. They also provide an opportunity for relaxing family time after a structured school day.
Bedtime has always been that special time set aside for reading. It is that magical time when parents breathe a few relaxing, child-centered, moments to expressively read aloud their favorite books to their children. It is also an opportune time for children to read a chapter of the book about which they will be writing a school-related book report. Pre-reading a child’s book selection and asking questions as he/she reads through chapters, serve to lay the groundwork for writing a well-developed book report.
Responsibility is a learned character trait. If we want children to be responsible, teach responsibility by putting them in charge of their school items. By emptying the contents of their bags upon their arrival home (putting aside important notices where their parents will see them), and packing their homework into their bags at night, children take charge of their belongings and help ease the mad rush out the door in the morning.
Education is a partnership and open communication between the home and school is an important ingredient for a child’s academic and social success. If there is something that a teacher should know about meeting the needs of your child, contact the teacher. Classroom teachers always appreciate feedback from the home. A note at the start of the school year informing the classroom teacher of your concerns for your child, both academic and social, starts an early dialogue for a parent to teacher connection.
Success breeds success and failure is but one small bump on the road to success. Cooperation between school and home is key to easing those bumps.
Happy start of the school year to all!