Summer is over, and the new school year is in full swing! It’s not always easy for younger children to adjust to the routines and demands of school. As parents, there are many things you can do to help “prime” your children to be successful in school.
- Establish a consistent routine at home. Children who have consistent routines at home are more likely to accept and adapt to the routine and scheduled day they have at school. Consistent daily bedtimes and wake-up times are very important in setting your child’s sleep and wake-up schedule. Consistent mealtimes and snack times will help regulate his/her hunger patterns and energy levels. Having routines at these times, such as always washing hands before meals and always reading for a few minutes before bed, helps children understand and accept the steps that are involved in routines at school. Enforcing the completion of homework before fun and games not only gets homework out of the way before it interferes with dinner and bedtime, but it also teaches your child to prioritize schoolwork over play, which creates better habits for the future. It might also be helpful to ask your child’s teacher to describe any consistent routines in the classroom so you can attempt to mimic them at home.
- Establish an organized workspace at home for your child. Whether your child completes his/her homework at a desk in her bedroom or at the kitchen table, it is important to have all the necessary supplies, such as paper and pencils, readily accessible and organized. A small desk with drawers can be great for this, but if your child prefers to work at the kitchen table, a container large enough to hold paper and pencils is a great way to keep these supplies at hand when needed and tucked away when it is time to set the table for dinner.
- Do morning legwork the night before. All supplies for school should be packed up and ready to go before your child goes to bed so that he/she is not frantically searching for his/her books and homework as he/she heads out the door to catch the bus. It might also help to pack lunch and choose his/her clothing before he/she goes to bed. This can all be part of his/her nightly routine!
- Read with your child at least 20 minutes a day. Research shows that children who engage in at least 20 minutes of reading activities at home with their caregivers are more likely to be successful readers. Family reading time is an important part of your daily routine because it emphasizes the importance of lifelong learning and allows your child extra time to practice reading skills. Whether you sit together on the couch and read to yourselves silently or read a book out loud together, this is a great way for you to be involved with your child’s reading. When time is up, have a discussion about what you are each reading, including a synopsis and perhaps the most interesting fact you each learned from what you read.
- Get to know your child’s teacher. Not only is it important that you have open lines of communication with your child’s teacher, but it is also important for your child to know about it. In this age of technology, most teachers are readily available via email to answer your questions. Many schools also offer websites for each specific class with online bulletin boards where you and your child can post questions or start discussions. Teacher websites are a great resource for finding out about any upcoming important information, such as projects and field trips. Let your child see that you respect her teacher and have a good, open relationship with him or her. Modeling that respect for your child’s teacher will go a long way toward enhancing your child’s own attitude toward her teacher!
These are all easy ways to structure your family life so that your child will experience success in school, not just this year but well into the future. The school-friendly family is one that emphasizes the importance of school success and structures itself to promote good habits and productive learning. Students learn to value and thrive on routines that allow them to be successful in school, and they