It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end already. For me, it means starting kindergarten for my oldest and preschool for my youngest. As an elementary school teacher myself, I know how important it is to support your child’s education not just in the classroom, but at home as well. Here are 5 tips on how to make the most of your child’s education in the upcoming school year:
1st READ, READ, READ, and READ Some more! As kindergarten teachers, we ask parents to read aloud to their children at least 20 minutes each day. Reading aloud to your children increases their vocabulary, comprehension and fluency skills, and will help encourage a lifetime love of books and learning. Just as important for your child is to see YOU reading. Remember, your child will do as you do, not as you say. Instead of a family movie night, try a family reading night or start a mother-daughter book club . Celebrate your family’s love of literature in the home as much as you possibly can by turning off the TV and picking up a book.
2nd Get Involved. Take time to form a positive and close relationship with your child’s teacher. Set up a conference in the first few months of school to talk about your child’s needs and to get to know the person who will be spending the majority of the day with your little one. Volunteering can be done at home or in the classroom and sends the message to your child that you know education is important and that you have a relationship with the school. Join your PTA and stay informed of issues involving the school and district your child attends. Finally, be sure to attend conferences, Back to School Night, Open House, and other important events to the best of your ability.
3rd Set up a Positive Learning Environment at Home. Having routines and clear expectations are important for children of every age. Be sure that your child is aware of what is expected of them when it comes to the subject of homework. First, provide an environment that is conducive to learning. Not all children are comfortable sitting at a desk to do their homework, but wherever their homework area is, it should be comfortable, quiet and free from distractions. Second, be clear in when you expect homework to be done. Saving it for the last thing at night when everyone is tired is not the greatest of ideas. Usually before dinner, but after a short break upon returning home, is a good time. Finally, be sure to go over your children’s homework after they are finished to answer any questions they may have, hold them accountable for quality work, and become familiar with what is being taught in the classroom.
4th Enough Sleep and Proper Nutrition. Your school-age child should be getting between 10-12 hours of sleep per night for proper brain and physical development. Be sure that you are regulating a proper and healthy bedtime for your children so they can attend school rested and ready to learn. Be sure your child is eating a nutritious and hearty breakfast. There are plenty of tasty breakfast options that do not contain sugar (which will lower their immune system and cause a lack of energy by midmorning and into the day). Take the time to make a lunch for your child. School-provided lunches often consist of pizza and other not-so-healthy options. It only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to put together a nutritious lunch for your child the previous night.
5th Enhance Learning Experiences at Home. This can be done in a few different ways. Having your children involved in sports, learning another language or music helps to stimulate parts of their brain that will help them to excel in academic areas such as reading and math. Just be careful not to overly commit your child to extracurricular activities. Family trips to museums and libraries, watching documentaries, exploring the outdoors are just a few examples of activities that you can do outside of school to help build upon what your child is learning in the classroom. It helps to make learning fun, as well providing great bonding time as a family and reinforcing the message that education is a priority in your family.
With our educational system facing the challenges it does today, it is more important than ever that parents take an active role in ensuring the success of students in school. Regardless of socioeconomic status, age, or grade of your child, or whether you are working or non-working parents these rules are applicable and effective. Wishing you all a wonderful 2011-2012 school year!