Whether you are a parent of a child who will just be starting school for the first time this year, or you have a child who is a few years in and still in the primary grades, it’s clear that the early school years carry a lot of weight and importance in a child’s life. They will be learning incredible amounts, building a foundation of knowledge that they will build upon the rest of the school years, and of course making friendships and expanding their social skills.
Of course, you want the very best for them, and that includes getting the most possible out of those early school years. This means limiting the negatives and ensuring that the majority of their experiences are positive ones. Unfortunately for some kids this comes easier than others, and for some those early years can be bumpy to say the least.
Rather than sit on the sidelines and hope that things work out in the end, there are things that parents can be doing to help kids experience as many positives as possible. Here are some tips and advice that can help you navigate the early school years.
Get Involved Whenever Possible
One of the biggest tips for parents is to engage with the school community and get involved whenever possible. This includes things such as going to orientation nights, back to school events, parent-teacher conferences, getting involved in the parent council, and volunteering whenever possible. The more involved parents are, the better the understanding they will have of the school environment, the teachers, and the students. It also helps to keep the lines of communication open so teachers can feel comfortable contacting you with any issues and vice versa.
Access the School Calendar
Nowadays many schools have their own websites which are great for learning helpful information like upcoming events, contact information, and the daily schedule. What you’ll also want to do is access your child’s classroom calendar. If it isn’t posted online, be sure to ask for one.The classroom calendar will give you important information like upcoming field trips, classroom presentations, upcoming tests, special event days, and more. It helps your child to stay organized and also start to take responsibility for themselves as they can refer to that calendar in order to prepare for the upcoming day(s).
Create a Morning and After School Routine that You Stick To
Speaking of creating that sense of responsibility,parents also need to create a morning and after school routine that the whole family sticks to. This means getting kids off to school on time each and every morning, making sure they are prepared for the day with everything they will need. After school, it’s a good idea to have a set homework time where kids understand they need to complete their work before they can go play, watch TV, and have free time.
After a busy day at school, many parents find it useful to give kids a bit of down time when they first get home. This allows them to decompress, chat about their day, have a snack, and then they can tackle homework.
For parents who both work, and therefore the kids won’t get home until dinner time, that schedule can be much more tight, but it’s still important to set it up and stick with it.
Be Available to Help with Homework
Speaking of homework, you also want to be available to help them with any homework questions they may have. Sometimes they just need that bit of moral support and confidence. While helping them is useful, you don’t want to over-step and end up doing the homework for them.
You’ll also want to be sure that you have a dedicated study space that is comfortable and quiet so they can do their homework without interruptions. It should be free of distractions such as the TV. Kids need to be able to focus on their work. It is advised that elementary school aged kids take a break after 45 minutes of homework. This gives them a chance to relax and re-focus.
Consider a Different Type of School and Learning
The traditional way of learning involves kids sitting in a classroom listening to what the teacher is telling them. While this may work just fine for some, it’s not a one-size fits all solution that works for every kid. This is why there are other options available such as project based learning schools.
Pear Tree Elementary is an example of just such a school that uses a student-centered teaching method. In this type of learning environment, kids work in collaborative groups in order to research/investigate, ask questions, and come up with solutions. It’s all about hands-on learning, which can enhance the learning experience and help expand their social skills. The teachers take on the role of facilitators of the group, and really create a much more active learning environment.
The skills they will pick up can prove to be incredibly useful if they choose to go onto to college or university later in life.
Chat with Kids on a Regular Basis
In order for parents to get an idea of how kids are coping with school, and if they are getting the most out of it, you also want to chat with them on a regular basis. Even with high test scores and glowing report cards, that’s still not enough to paint the full picture. You will also want to learn about friendships, any sports or clubs they are taking part in, how well they are connecting with their teacher, etc. There is a lot that goes into shaping that school experience.
Setting Them on the Track for Success
By taking an interest in their early school years and doing what you can to promote a positive learning and social experience, you will in fact be setting your child on the track for success, not just in school, but in life in general. The early school years truly set the foundation for what’s to come.