Back 2 School: 10 Things Parents Can Do To Positively Affect Their Child's Education, Growth, and Development

With school returning to full swing for teachers, kids, and parents, I will be sharing Back 2 School with you this week- a series geared towards parents from a teacher's perspective. I taught 3rd grade gifted and talented for 2 years, and I taught kindergarten last year. Even though I only have three years of teaching experience, hopefully I can share with you some ideas and insight that will help you and your child have a better school year.

10 Things Parents Can Do To Positively Affect Their Child's Education, Growth, and Development

1. Set an Example for Your Child. Whether you realize it or not, what you are today is what your child will become tomorrow. If you want something to be important to your child, you first have to show them that it is important to you. In this case, if you want your child to enjoy school and take it seriously, then you have to convey this somehow to them. Some ideas on how to do this is to simply ask them what they did at school, what their favorite activity was, praise them for what they did right on an assignment or activity, and to out right tell them that learning is important.

2. Make Your Child a Priority. This one seems like a no-brainer, but you wouldn't believe how many parents miss the boat. Actively engaging in conversation with your child is a great way to make them feel like they are important to you. So many children come to school craving attention from their teacher or other adults at school because they do not receive much at home. These children that crave attention are the ones that are constantly breaking the rules, testing the limits, and honestly pushing their teacher's buttons in an attempt to get any kind of "face-time" they can.

3. Set and Keep a Regular Routine. Children respond well to a structured environment. Structure that is found within a routine helps children to learn and understand exactly what is going to happen, when. This is a life skill that has the potential to be wonderfully taught in the home. Kids will learn, for example, when they get home that it is time for homework, and before you know it, you won't even have to ask them to get it out of their backpack. This goes without saying that a child who eats a good healthy breakfast, is awake at the same time each day, and has the same bedtime each night is going to be a very productive student at school.

4. Establish Rules and Set Consequences. So many times while I was a teacher there would be a student who didn't seem to understand this concept. Parents really do a disservice to their children when they do not lay out a specific set of rules and expectations for their kids. I have heard so many parents go through this routine: "I told you not to do that. Johnny. Johnny. Johnny, I'm going to count. I'm counting Johnny. One..... Two..... Don't make me say three, Johnny. Johnny, put it down. I don't want to have to..... ". You get my point. Set rules and consequences and then follow through.

5. Give Your Child Responsibility. When kids come to school, even in kindergarten, they have responsibilities that many of them can simply not keep up with. Giving your child simple responsibilities in your home will help them transfer this skill to be applied in the school setting. For example, give your child the responsibility to put away his or her shoes when they come home, or to feed the dog, or to set the silverware on the table for dinner. When they forget their responsibility, just remind them.

6. Encourage and Praise. When they struggle with something new, encourage them that they can do it. Help them practice, and then when they do something right, or when they reach a goal, praise them for it. This will boost your child's confidence beyond your wildest imagination. The thought that you are proud of them is sometimes all they need.

7. Talk. Don't think you have time to have a conversation with your child? Spend time in the car talking to your child. I have a friend who is doing this with her children right now, and even though they are still toddlers, they are beginning to ask questions and understand things beyond what you would think a typical toddler would be able to understand.

8. Limit Time for TV. Have a set amount of time that your child can watch television. Research says that a typical child watches around 4 hours of TV a day, and that children spend more time watching television than doing any other activity, only second to sleeping. Even educational shows should be watched in moderation.

9. Read, Read, Read. Foster a love for reading in your home by turning off the TV and turning on a good book. Children who are read to and are given the opportunity to read at home learn to read earlier than their peers, as well as are stronger readers throughout their lifetime. If you pick up a good book, your child will tend to have a desire to learn to read as well. Remember what we said in #1?

10. Be Active in Your Child's School. Attending parent nights, PTO or PTA meetings, volunteering to participate in fundraisers, or even in your child's classroom will help you be in the know of school happenings. Being active at school also helps develop relationships with other parents, school staff, teachers, school administration, and other school leaders. These positive relationships become invaluable as you desire your child to have success at school.

Have I forgotten anything? Is there anything that you make an effort to do that you have seen affect your child's development in a positive way? Please share with us!

Any beginning of the year questions that you have?

Come back tomorrow to hear ways to build a relationship with your child's teacher.   

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