Summer vacation is almost over and millions of children across Texas are preparing for another school year. In most homes, there is excitement, and in some cases, anxiousness about starting school or returning for yet another year. Parents understand that there are few more important things than getting a good education. Education at a young age is the foundation for what is needed to complete high school and attend college. My wife Harriett and I each have over forty years of teaching experience, and one important lesson we have learned is that the more parents know about how to help their children in school, the greater chance there is for student success.
There are many challenges in getting off to a good educational start, so in the spirit of continuous learning, I offer ten things parents can do to help their children succeed in school. First, make a point to get to know your child’s school. Be familiar with the main office, your child’s classroom, the cafeteria and library. Make a point of meeting your child’s teacher. This knowledge is important because there will be teacher conferences, events, and other activities that will require your presence in the school. Second. Read, read, read. Parents are the child’s first teachers, and early schooling is intended to compliment not substitute the home learning experience. Read to your child on a daily basis. When the child is ready, have him or her read back to you. Third. Get a library card and visit your local neighborhood library on a regular basis. All our major libraries have a children’s section which carefully selects the best books for the different reading ages. Our grandkids are big fans of the Main San Antonio Public Library downtown. Fourth.
Set a time for school work or other learning activities. A third grader might need thirty minutes of homework in a quiet setting absent of distractions. The parents must be the champions of learning, however, the child has to learn to do the work. Fifth. Our schools offer great learning opportunities, but it is the parents’ job to have the child arriving ready to learn. Children learn best when they have had a healthy breakfast and plenty of sleep. Children from ages kindergarten to middle school need ten to twelve hours of sleep. Sixth. Children learn differently. Make time to visit their teachers and inquire about their learning styles and how you may help them. Get to know their friends and their friends’ parents and share learning activities with them. Seventh. Promote curiosity and questions. Most children are curious and tend to ask questions. Dinner time is an excellent time to discuss and ask “What did you learn today?” as well as to inquire: “What is on your mind?” Personal interaction such as dinner conversations have proven to be crucial to good learning. Eighth. Encourage, encourage, encourage. Educators agree that self-esteem is important in learning.
In some instances, children do not perform as well if they lack confidence or see themselves as unworthy. Children who do not feel good about themselves struggle in school. Do not hesitate to praise and always take an interest in their school work. Ninth. Parents must have a positive attitude toward learning. An excellent article in HuffPost noted: “Children look to their parents as behavioral models, especially when it comes to learning. If parents don’t seem to value learning, children pick up on that, and if affects the way they approach school.” Tenth. Set limits on video games, cell phones, internet and television. Schoolwork and proper sleep habits come first. Have a great school year. We are fortunate to have many good schools and dedicated teachers who care about your children and want them to be successful.
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