A child’s success in school is every parent’s wish. I want to wish all parents success for their children in school in this new school year. A child’s success in school is closely connected to how much the parent is connected to the child’s education; so, I want to encourage each parent to be fully and meaningfully involved in the child’s school, right down to meeting the new teacher in person at the outset of the school year and working out the best means of staying in touch, i.e. email, telephone. Communication, frequent and regularly, is an important key.
Below is a brief guide for parents on how to get the new school year off to a proper beginning.
Have a talk with your child about your expectations for the coming school year and focus together on those areas that were particularly challenging for the child last year. I prefer the word challenge over the word weakness only as a matter of perspective; weakness creates a negative energy, whereas challenge turns it into a personal growth exercise. This school year will be better because you are going to get an early start on what you see together as needing attention and improvement. For example, the youngster last year was too easily distracted by his close friend in class, so you want them to make a plan to avoid doing this in order to keep them both focused on the classroom assignments. If the parents know one another, it would be a great idea for them to discuss this together.
All of this discussion should give the parent and child some good ideas that will go into making a plan on how to identify the areas of strength and challenge, and then proceed to commit them to paper. Sitting down together in a family meeting atmosphere to talk about these things, giving the child and the parent the opportunity to work out a plan of action together is a solid approach to starting off the right way. Consideration must also be given to how the terms of the agreement will be evaluated, and how often. Rewards and penalties have to be agreed upon in advance, too.
Formulating the plan has to start with the parents reviewing and discussing last school year. Start with the report cards from last year. Was there improvement as each quarter progressed? Were there subject areas that were particularly outstanding, good or bad? Did the child use her time well during school hours? After school use of time is one of the most important factors in determining a child’s level of success in school, so how is that time being used?
Committing a list of items to paper and presenting them to the child all at once is not the goal at this point. The goal is to build a chart together with the parents taking the lead, presenting them one by one. This chart will be used to measure progress. Tell the child outright that you don’t expect her to reach the goal immediately, but you do expect steady progress toward each goal. The parents and the child discussing each area that needs improvement have to come to an understanding on how the areas of challenge can show steady progress. The presentation of each item has to identify the problems and the road map for solving them.
• Stay on top of homework and long term assignments
• the child should keep a planner to organize assignments and schedules (check it often)
• periodic reports from teachers can be arranged Email is usually the best way.
Here comes the crucial part of this overall plan, the follow through. Plans do no work unless they are closely monitored and objectively evaluated. The chart is a very useless tool to provide instant feedback and to openly communicate exactly where things are at any point in time. Design the chart together on each of the parts of your plan. Parents have to be real sticklers in keeping the accuracy of this chart, and the chart must be easily visible (yes, the fridge is a good spot). Build and maintain excitement about how this school year will be better because of the work you did together.
Best wishes to all for a productive and successful school year.