August has arrived. No matter where you look, it seems there are signs of school staring back of you. August is not only the month to begin gathering the materials your child needs to be successful in school, it is also the perfect time to help your child begin developing the skills for academic success.
If asked, most children will state they want to do well in school. All too often, however, they either lack the motivation or the necessary skills to accomplish that goal.
Academic success is the result of a combination of schools – organization, time management, prioritization, concentration and motivation. GreatSchools.staff provides some tips to help parents with those issues.
Talk to your child: To determine which of the above skills your child has and which he may need to develop further, begin a conversation that focuses on his goals. Ask about his favorite subjects, the classes he dreads and whether he was satisfied with the results he achieved last year.
Listen for clues: Integrate your observation skills with your child’s self-assessment. Was she overwhelmed by assignments? Could be she has trouble with organizing her time. Did she have problems completing her work? Perhaps she is too easily distracted. Is your child disinterested in school? She may need your help in getting motivated.
Identify problem areas: Begin here to help your child identify which of the five skill areas are the trouble spots.
- Organization – For many students, academic challenges are related more to lack of organization than to a lack of intellectual ability.
- Make a checklist of things your child needs to take to and from school each day. Put one copy by the door at home and another copy in his backpack. Make an effort to determine every day if he remembers the items on the list. (It is a good idea for him to check them off as he puts them into his backpack, coming and going)
- Have your child show you how he keeps track of his homework and how he organizes his notebooks. Then work together to develop a system that will be easier for him to use.
- Shop with your child so he can select tools to help him remain organized, such as binders, folders and/or an assignment book.
- Time Management – Learning to organize time into productive blocks takes practice and experience.
- Track assignments on a monthly calendar. Work backward from the due date of larger assignments and break it down into nightly assignments.
- Have your child track how much time she spends on homework each week. Determine if this can be broken up into more manageable chunks.
- Together, select a time for nightly homework, and work to ensure it happens.
- If all the homework can’t be done during evenings, help your child determine other times, such as early morning, study halls or weekends, to get it done.
- Prioritization - Sometimes children fall behind in school and fail to hand in assignments because they simply do not know where to begin. Prioritizing tasks is a skill your child will need throughout life, so it is never too soon to get started.
- Have your child write down all the things he needs to do, including non-school-related items.
- Ask him to label each task from 1 to 3, with 1 being the most important.
- Review the list with your child so you can learn his priorities. If he labels all his social activities as 1s, then you know where his attention is focused.
- Help your child change some of the labels to better prioritize for academic success. Then suggest he rewrite the list so all the 1s are on the top.
- Check in frequently to see how the list is evolving and how your child is prioritizing new tasks.
- Concentration – Children should work on schoolwork in an area which has limited distractions or interruptions.
- Remove all access to email and games when your child works on the computer.
- Declare phones and TV off-limits during homework time.
- Find space appropriate to the assignment. If your child is working on a science project, she may require lots of space. If studying for a Latin test, she will need a well-lit desk.
- Help your child to concentrate during homework time by separating her from her siblings.
- Motivation – Tapping into your child’s interest is a great way to get him excited about doing well in school.
- Link assignments to your child’s life. If he’s learning percentage, ask him to figure out what percent of shots LeBron James made during the NBA play-offs.
- Link your child’s interest to academics. Provide books and activities which enhance his interests.
- Give your child as much control and choices as possible. With your guidance, allow him to determine his study hours, organizing system or school project topics.
- Encourage your child to share his expertise. Invite him to teach you something he’s learned about in school.
- Encourage your child by celebrating all his successes, even the smallest ones.