Another school year is here!
The lazy days of summer are almost over. And, it’s time for your child to hit the books. School can be daunting for students and parents, alike. So, how can we prepare ourselves to have a productive, successful experience concerning academia? Librarian and teacher Sonia M. Renard at St. Cecilia – a student-focused, Christian school which shares in the teaching mission of the Catholic Church – offers a few tips and advice.
*Communication is Essential – It may seem basic but sometimes we, as parents, get distracted by the demands of our lives. And, we don’t make time to communicate with our children or with their teachers. Be sure to talk to your children – especially tweens/teens – about any challenges or any successes, daily. Ask open-ended questions. Discuss your most difficult subject? Which part of your homework assignments confuse you? Why do you feel you are having trouble focusing when studying? What do you need a tutor to help you understand? Discuss your most difficult obstacle at school? What are a few adjustments that would improve your academic performance? Tell me about any problems you are having with a teacher(s)? Don’t forget to schedule phone or individual conferences with teachers. If email is more convenient, please utilize whatever means of communication is necessary to stay abreast on your child’s progress.
*Get Organized – A cluttered space equals a cluttered mind. Disorganization cost time while organization simplifies life. Why not help your child establish a planner and a binder system? The planner system helps students stay on task, mange assignments, maintain control and reduce stress/anxiety. This is also a good place for quick references – class schedule, pertinent email addresses, phone numbers, website credentials, extracurricular activities and more. The binder system provides one place for all papers (i.e. homework sheets, tests, quizzes, note cards) to be stored for future access. Each week, transfer whatever paper items are not needed at that time to a paper station at home that is organized by subjects. When the time comes to prepare for mid-term or final exams, your child will be able to easily locate study materials. And, what about implementing a Sunday night meeting? Take 15 minutes to communicate schedules, appointments, assignment deadlines and goals for the week ahead. When everyone is on the same page, this results in less parent/student frustration, better grades and time for more enjoyable activities.
*Manage Expectations – Be sure that your expectations are reasonable and realistic. As parents, we often impose expectations that our kids are not yet capable of meeting. Keep in mind that biological, chemical and psychological issues can impede progress; don’t – unintentionally – set them up for failure. Understand that your child is still learning problem-solving, critical thinking and interpersonal communication skills – just to name a few. As various situations arise, they develop and sharpen these necessary abilities to survive. In fact, consider this. During middle school, a lot changes for your child, drastically. For example, they must adjust to multiple teachers, larger student populations, tougher academic standards, as well as, more social interaction and puberty. This can be overwhelming; be patient. Be sure your expectations are not above what they can deliver at their age. Some babies walk independently at nine months while others not until 16 months. Eventually, they will get there. Practice, practice, practice.
*Helping is not Doing – It is easier to do something ourselves rather than instruct our kids, who are attempting a duty for the first time. Naturally, they will be less efficient but, with persistent and guidance, will improve. Helping does not mean doing things for them. Simply put, it is providing the skills, resources and knowledge necessary for them to help themselves. What about helping your child discover what type of learner he/she is – visual (sight), auditory (sound) and/or kinesthetic (touch)? Once you know, you can better assist them with homework assignments and test preparation. Flash cards and re-reading class notes are extremely effective for visual learners while listening to information is best for auditory learners (i.e. recording or reading lectures to them). Kinesthetic learners are most engaged when they participate in learning by using models and air writing (an activity where kids write letters in the air, using big arm movements).
Parents, we all want our children to succeed, academically. Here are a few resources to utilize that can make learning fun. And, can assist you in helping your child to become an even better student. All the best on a triumphant school year!
Lafayette Public library: http://lafayettepubliclibrary.org
Just a few research databases:
- Tumble Books – Audio Books with activities for all ages
- LEAP and GEE Practice Questions
- EBSCOhost and Gale Virtual Reference Library
No Red Ink: https://www.noredink.com (Writing Website)
Quizlet: https://quizlet.com (Test Preparation Website)
Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org (Math Website)
Duolingo: https://www.duolingo.com (Foreign Language Website)