Whether you are sending your child off to preschool, middle school, high school or college, a new school year has begun. While some children love school and anticipate the first day with excitement, others groan when they think about school. For me, I looked forward to starting school, and especially loved the day I went shopping for new clothes and school supplies with my mom.
In my own home growing up and in our family today, we take our education seriously. Although my boys are not quite as willing and excited as I was about school, I still work to instill good success habits. Here are some ideas you can use with your children to ensure a successful school year.
Establish Solid Morning, After School and Bedtime Routines
When my oldest son Kai was growing up, he was diagnosed with ADHD. It was then that I learned about how important routines were in a child's life. Children thrive on consistency and structure, and routines provide that repetition and instill good habits. Make up sheets of paper that list every step your child should take before school, after school and before he goes to bed. Be specific and practice these routines until they become natural and habitual.
Give Your Children Lessons in Goal Setting
Once you believe your children are old enough to understand, begin teaching them how to set goals. With children under age 12, keep it simple. Ask them to set one academic goal and one behavioral goal. For example, I will allow plenty of time to work on projects instead of procrastinating. Behavioral goals can include showing more respect, getting along with brothers or sisters, or doing chores on time. After age 12, show your children how to set bigger goals that require more action steps, or encourage them to set three or four goals each year. Have fun with your children creating a colorful goals sheet or vision board so they can be reminded of their goals.
Communicate Often with Your Children and Teachers
Last year was a challenging year for my younger son. Constant communication with him and regular check ins with his teacher were critical to helping him be successful in school. A child will not always readily share what is going on at school. While some may openly share the ups and downs, for others it is necessary to ask open ended questions that encourage them to talk. Children will share more easily when parents are emotionally available and can listen without judgment. Create a space during bedtime or playtime to allow your children to freely communicate with you.
Stay Tuned In to Your Childs Interests and Talents
Every child is unique. While some thrive in sports, others are more prone to musical, academic or artistic abilities. Pay attention to what gives your children energy, and what activities they naturally gravitate towards. Nurture those interests and talents so they feel confident about being good in something. Help them to define who they are and what makes them special. There is so much competition and comparisons in schools today. Steer your children away from comparing themselves to others, and instead encourage them to compete with their own personal best. For example, when I took my son and a friend bowling, we didnt compete against each other. In the second game, we tried to beat our score from the first game.
Help Your Child Minimize Stress
Stress, believe it or not, affects a child's life as well as our own. While child stress is different than adult stress, children have their own set of pressures to deal with. Peers pressure them, teachers sometimes have high expectations, and kids are continually faced with trying new things. Stress for a child can be expressed through misbehavior, irritability or increased sensitivity. If your child is experiencing stress, incorporate stress management techniques to help them cope. Help them learn to have flexible thoughts, stand up to bullies, or manage perfectionism and procrastination. Try not to overbook the family calendar with too many extracurricular activities. Make healthy eating, exercise and proper sleep important goals for all family members.
As my youngest enters the second grade, and my eldest begins his first year in college, I am anticipating a successful school year. With these tips, you and your children can look forward to and celebrate success as they enter a new school year.
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