Whether you send your children to public school, pay for a private education, homeschool or all the above like my family, school is a part of life. My four children have all had a different combination of public, private and home education over the years and each child has had a different approach to how they tackle their studies and the social aspect. Through their struggles and sucesses, I’ve learned some tips on making school less of an argument.
Get Involved. Some parents can make a point of being involved in school functions, volunteering to help in the classroom and organizing events, others, like myself, simply attend parent/teacher conferences and talk to moms who are involved in the school! Either way, the child sees a connection between the adults in his life.
School Schedule. Read the newsletter. Check the calendar. Know when testing days are and be prepared for school spirit days.
Listen. Does your child hate school? Is it “fine?” Check in on them once a week or more. Try to get to the bottom of the struggles. My third grade daughter cried everyday before school, cried during school and often could not make it through lunch without calling home. She had good friends, made excellent grades and was overall healthy, she just did not click with her young, slightly rough, teacher. We made some changes and all’s well again.
Same Time, Same Sandbox. Make it a point to do homework in the same place everyday. Like any habit it will take time to establish, but once set, homework will be a given.
Standing Ovations. Instead of just being sure homework is done and grades are up to par, dig a little deeper. School is your child’s full time occupation for the time being, acknowledge accomplishments no matter how small.
Model. Show a respect for knowledge by pursuing something on your own. Take a class, read to learn something new, let your kids see you placing value on learning. (especially when you don’t have to)
Short and Sweet. Encourage mini breaks when homework or study will take several hours. Have them get up, move around and switch tasks every so often. Coach them, without enabling giving up.
Eat an Elephant. Teach them how to break down large projects into small chunks, and then even smaller bite-size pieces. Make a chart and get involved in the process. This is a tough concept to get, especially if they are used to cramming three weeks worth of work into one night. (or have a parent who consistently procrastinates)
Raise Self-Educators. Even if you are asked to help with their homework, it is important to put the learning on their lap. Ask them what they already know. See if you can pull out the answer. Offer support, but be sure to let them know they can find the answer. I like to have them teach me how the problem should be solved, in the process they often come up with the answer.
Call in the Troops. If a particular subject is a real stuggle, and you can’t seem to find a break-through point, be willing to call in extra help. Hire a tutor if necessary.
Whatever you do, to control your tongue. If you hated school, or dislike a particular teacher, learning method or program, bad mouthing it in front of your child is never a good idea. Attitudes spread like wildfire. If you really don’t like something, consider changing your own behavior or choose a new path for your family. Just complaining only brings more problems.