As a teacher I am often asked, “How can I help my child with school?” or “How can I help my child feel successful?” My first response is always to help support them where they are at. Each child is unique and their needs can be different.
I sat down and thought about what specific ideas I had that could help our students. A lot of families are doing these things, but I always find it helpful to see them in writing.
Here are some ideas that you can do at home that will mimic what they are doing in classes at New Morning School.
Help your child set goals and work to reach those goals
Help them learn how to organize their time and their everyday items without doing it for them.
We talk a lot about sitting on our hands and that can be so hard to do, but it really is important. Help your child make lists to help them stay organized. It teaches them time management and organizational skills. We do this daily with our plans at school. You can do this at home, too.
Set positive expectations for your child
Tell them that school is important and you value school. If a child has worked hard on something, then celebrate it.
It doesn’t have to be perfect for them to feel good about an assignment. Focusing too much on grades or performance can be very stressful. Honor your child where they are. Really seeing the gifts that your child brings can be transformative. If you have a positive attitude about learning your child will too.
Mistakes are ok to make. We learn the most from mistakes. Expectations should be age appropriate and can be different for different kids. Not everyone learns the same way and some friends need different accommodations to help with learning. That is ok and encouraged at our school.
Establish routines for your child
It can be with homework routines like studying for spelling, learning math facts, or reading. It can also be with bedtime routines and morning routines
Kids do well when they know what is expected of them and what is going to happen.
Reach out to your child’s teacher
When you have a good relationship with your child’s teacher, your child sees you as a team. They know you are on the same team.
Read the emails and notes sent home so that you know what the expectations are. Let your child’s teacher know if your child had a rough night, a rough morning, if there is a family situation, or if there is something they are worried about. Their teacher can help support him/her and you as a parent.
Children need to develop healthy sleep habits
They need to be well rested (as well as well-fed). Studies show that students who get adequate amounts of nightly sleep do better in school.
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends the following sleep hours for school-aged children:
- 3- to 5-year-olds: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
- 6- to 12-year-olds: 9 to 12 hours
- 13- to 18-year-olds: 8 to 10 hours
How to talk to your children about school
Asking them about school will help you pick up on things they may need help with or things they are excited about. It could be a friendship, a teacher, or an assignment.
I know you will often get the “school was fine” answer. Sometimes asking more specific questions can help. Here are some that I find helpful. There are so many you can use though.
- What was your favorite part of your day? What was the worst part of the day?
- Was anything hard today?
- Who did you play with today during recess?
- What was the funniest thing that happened today?
- Which assignment/activity did you feel most confident about today?
- What’s the most interesting thing you heard at school today?
- If you could change just ONE thing about school, what would that be?
- What parts of school today went by the fastest? Slowest?
- What is your favorite spot in your school/classroom?
- What are you looking forward to learning in school tomorrow/this month/this year?
Summary: Teamwork can help your child succeed
School is such a big part of your child’s day. There are so many expectations parents, teachers and students have.
If we can all be on the same team, then there is no stopping any student from being and feeling successful.
Christine Jansen is an elementary teacher for New Morning School in Plymouth, MI. She can be reached at email@example.com.