Educators often use terminology that really doesn’t mean a lot to people who are not in the business of teaching children. Terms like “working memory,” “executive functioning,” “attention deficit,” and many others can confuse parents and some teachers not familiar with them. There are a few fundamental strategies, however, that help all children be more successful in school. These guiding principles are helpful and lead to success in school.
- Praise should be genuine and deserved. If parents and teachers praise children for work that isn’t done well, children feel they do not need to work hard to succeed. This does not have to be at the expense of your child’s self-esteem. Instead of praising, ask him questions about his work. “How did you do this?” “Can you work any more on this to make it even better?” These comments do not hurt feelings, and encourage him to keep working. They also help him to connect his success to hard work.
- All children benefit from structure and routine. School days should be predictable with homework times, meal times, bath time, and bed time as close to the same every day as possible. Routines reduce the amount of arguing because children know what to expect.
- Your child should be held accountable for her own actions. Consequences should be reasonable and related to her actions. If she gets up early, makes up her bed, gets ready for school, and helps you with breakfast, she should be praised for her efforts. On the other hand, if she is uncooperative while getting ready for school, her consequence should relate directly to the problem. Perhaps she needs to wake up ten minutes earlier each day, so she will have time to make her bed and help you prepare breakfast.
- Your child needs to feel his parents love him and are on his side. School days should start with encouraging, positive words from you. This helps to establish a relationship of trust so that when things are not going well, he will feel comfortable talking with you about it. Together you can figure out how to solve the problem.
The beginning of the school year is the best time to establish positive routines that help children get off to a good start. Teaching kids to connect success to their hard work and holding them accountable for their actions will lead to success in school and life. And, as always, make sure to tell your children how glad you are they are a part of your life!
I hope this school year is the best ever. I am so glad to have my students return this week! The building is much too quiet while they are away for summer.