Even though the temperature still indicates we are in the middle of summer, the beginning of a new school year is here, and the beginning of the year in your home sets the tone for the year. The old adage “Well begun is half done” is certainly appropriate and deserves some thought and action this month. Here are my humble suggestions.
Start the year off on a good note with the teacher. The days of bringing the teacher an apple are gone; teachers prefer lattes. The teacher in Room 128 specifically prefers venti skinny caramel macchiatos. This paragraph is kind of a joke. Kind of.
Seriously now . . . .
Be sure your student is getting enough sleep each night. As entertaining as I am with all of my jokes and anecdotes, kids nod off during my class. Oddly enough, the students who fall asleep are often up all night. Parents, take control of this. Have your kids leave their phones on the kitchen counter at night if texts and social media are sleep interrupters. If they use their phone for an alarm, invest in a small alarm clock instead (yes, these still exist). Set and enforce bed times. Adequate sleep is often overlooked as a habit of successful people.
Establish a routine. Okay, I am talking mainly to me here because I am the worst at routine. The only routine I have is writing blog posts late at night. (Note to self – read the paragraph about sleep and success). Students thrive in routine. Now for all of you routine people, don’t be crazy with this; have some flexibility. If your student needs some play time before homework, allow for this. If you want to go buy your kid’s favorite teacher a latte, by all means, adjust the schedule. Our routine includes the bulk of homework done before dinner followed by getting ready for the next day and games if time. Establishing a routine may be difficult at first, but kids will eventually do the same thing the same way at the same time because it’s, ummmmm, routine.
Do as much as you can the night before. My kids packed their lunches, laid out clothes, and finished homework all the night before. If mornings at your house are anything like mornings at mine, it’s a small miracle to get up, get dressed, grab breakfast, and get out the door on time. When students pack too much into a morning or don’t get everything they plan to do in the morning done, they arrive in class with stress and an inability to focus. Give them and their teachers the gift of a stress free morning by requiring them to get ready the night before.
Let your students have ownership of their studies. At the end of last year a parent asked me if I was relieved not to stay on top of my daughter and her studies all of the time. This confused me that parents actually sit down sometimes a couple of hours a night and micromanage their child’s homework. Be there for help, but don’t do it for them or help them too much. Plus it’s completely awkward when I have to give a parent a “C” on a paper. Students will never learn how to manage jobs if parents don’t start with smaller management projects like homework. Let them grow up!
Set time aside to spend time with your child. Confident kids make good students. Kids who have healthy relationships with their parents (neither co-dependent or neglected) tend to be secure and do well in school. Don’t over schedule your child with so many activities that they miss out on being in a family. I am always saddened to hear students tell me they have family dinner once a week or not at all. Fight as hard as you can against not having time for meaningful relationship with your kids.
Here’s hoping that all of you have a wonderful start to a successful school year!