Ingredients for a successful back-to-school plan
Communication and routines are at the heart of a great school year.
As children head back to school, it is important to think about routines and guidelines that will work for you and your child. Setting these early in a child’s education will set expectations for when they get into upper grades with lots of homework and peer pressure and begin testing boundaries. However, keep in mind that what might work for you might not be best for your child and vice versa.
Michigan State University Extension has the following suggestions to set your child up for a successful school year.
Establish a simple, yet consistent, homework routine
Eventually, homework will become more of a struggle as kids get older, and it becomes more strenuous and time consuming. Additionally, if they plan to participate in an extra-curricular activity such as 4-H or sports, having a routine in place and enforced at an early age will eliminate school work battles later. Through role-modeling, you can teach your child how to manage their time effectively, stay organized and how to prioritize. These are very important life skills they will need as they grow older.
Establish a bedtime routine
Don’t let your child take charge of the show by allowing them to ask a steady stream of questions or request to read an excessive amount of books. Establish a routine that is manageable and includes cleaning up any toys they played with, brushing teeth, getting things ready for the next day and reading a few books. Set a time limit to your routine so that it doesn’t extend longer than it should. Experts recommend the bedtime routine should be no longer than 30 minutes.
As your child gets older, gradually begin to step back and let them become more in charge of their bedtime and homework routine. Ask your child for their input on what the routines should include and what they feel would work for them. By doing so, they can be held accountable if they don’t want to do something or say it isn’t fair. It is something you have both decided on, but if it truly is not working, changes might need to be implemented. Being consistent will make things easier in the end as your child will know what is expected and not push the limits.
You and the teacher are a team
It’s important your child understands you and their teacher work together as a team to give them the best education possible. At the very beginning of the school year, let your child’s teacher know you value open dialogue and would appreciate specific ideas and strategies to help your child learn and grow. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, research shows that when families are involved, children do better academically and socially. Discuss with your child’s teacher the method to communicate with you that makes the most sense for your family. Notes in the backpack, email, text or phone calls are all suitable options. Ask your teacher the best way to access information about the classroom and school events. Many have a website that is really handy when navigating through your child’s school year.
Challenges and changes
Equally important, yet often overlooked, is letting your child’s teacher know about any changes or challenges at home that may impact your child’s attitude and behaviors at school. Having this information, the teacher will be understanding of uncommon outbursts or if they are unusually quiet.
From preschool through college graduation, a child’s success or failure is based a great deal on the expectations and routines we set when they are very young. Put into practice these tips during the younger years and they will develop life skills that will encourage a love of life-long learning.