Back-to-school season is here, so it's time to gear up for another exciting year of learning!
As a mom of four older kids myself, I have plenty of back-to-school experience and wanted to share my top 8 tips with you to make this year a success for your kids:
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1. Get in the groove
Creating a consistent daily routine is a game-changer. Help your kids develop good habits and manage their time better with a consistent daily routine that includes:
- A regular wake-up time for your kids that allows them to enjoy a healthy breakfast without feeling rushed as they head out the door.
- Time for homework and studying — and outdoor play!
- Enjoying a healthy and homemade dinner together as often as possible.
- An appropriate bedtime.
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2. Team up with teachers
Being on the same team as your child's teachers helps you support your child better and can help you be aware of any potential issues early on. Make sure to attend parent/teacher conferences and back-to-school nights and reach out to teachers in their preferred way, whether it's by email, an app, or phone.
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3. Make expectations crystal clear
Make sure the kids and you understand the expectations for the school year! What does that mean? Talk about things like the importance of taking responsibility for their own learning and behavior. Discuss now what the consequences will be if they don't follow through on schoolwork or school-year responsibilities. Encourage them to set (achievable) goals.
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4. Be a homework helper now ... so they won't need you later
Help younger kids manage homework and projects so they can work independently as they get older. Show them how to break down tasks and assignments into manageable parts. Help them figure out how to find answers to their own questions by encouraging them to ask the teacher for clarification or finding online tools to help.
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5. Create the perfect study spot
A child trying to do homework in the heart of the house, like at the kitchen table, can face a bazillion distractions. Together, set up a dedicated quiet spot for homework and studying with easy access to everything they'll need (like paper, pens, a dictionary, and a computer). It can make all the difference!
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6. Become a family of bookworms
Reading helps with language and comprehension and increases knowledge and creativity. But how to encourage a kid to read, especially a reluctant reader? Start by including reading time in the daily routine — for the whole household. We can all benefit from reading more, and they'll follow your example. Talk to your kids about the books they're reading as well — it can spark some fascinating discussions!
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7. Recognize achievements ... and failures
Positive reinforcement boosts self-esteem and motivation, so recognize successes — big and small! If they fail? Acknowledge their efforts and encourage them to persist when facing challenges. Talk about what they could have done differently and what they learned from the experience. Be empathetic, and make it positive!
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8. Ask questions ... but avoid judgment
Show interest in their school day by asking about their day. What did they learn? What was the best thing that happened? What was the worst? Show genuine interest and take a deep breath if they tell you anything that makes you upset — I've found it best to show empathy and refrain from any judgments before thinking over my response ... otherwise, you risk kids not feeling comfortable talking with you about important things happening in their lives.
Every child is unique, of course, so what works for one child may not work for another. One thing that is universal though? Kids need love and support. With that in mind, I hope this school year is the best one yet for your family!
Jennifer Hill is the publisher of Macaroni KID Fremont, Calif.