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August 2006

Life Goals

Ten Tips for School Success
By Renee Kirchner

Success in school is not just a matter of luck. Parents can help their children become successful in school by starting early and helping their children establish good habits. If you get children off to a good start during their first few years of school chances are the following years will go much more smoothly. Here are some tips that have worked very well for my own children:

Establish Good Study Habits
Young children must learn good study habits and develop a homework routine. First, you need to find a quiet place where children can do their homework. I have found that the kitchen table works very well for young children. A large table allows a child space to spread out and they don’t feel isolated and alone while working on homework. Parents can cook dinner while monitoring the child’s homework. Let children try to do their own work, but stay close enough so they can call for help if they need it. When children get older they may want to retreat to desks in their bedrooms for a quieter environment. My kids still tend to gravitate to the kitchen table.

Communicate With Your Child's Teacher
Teachers want every child in their class to succeed. The likelihood for success is increased when parents and teachers communicate regularly. Attend parent/teacher conferences. Express your concerns. Parents usually know what is best for their own child. However, have an open mind and listen to what they are seeing in the classroom. Children often exhibit different behavior at school than in the home.

Spend Time At Your Child's School
The more time you can spend at your child’s school, the better. Children love to see their parents at school musicals, plays, and performances. It makes them feel special. Volunteer to help their teacher if you have time. Younger kids especially like to see their parents in the middle of the day. Transitioning to school after staying at home with a parent can be a big adjustment. The more time you spend at the school, and the more you learn the school routines, the more you will be able to contribute to conversations with your child about his or her day at school.

Establish A Bed Time Routine
One of the most important things a parent can do is to make sure their child is getting enough sleep before going to school. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Children who are sleepy cannot pay attention to the lessons.

Read With Your Child
Many parents of young children (Kindergarten – 2nd grade) do not realize the importance of reading with their children. Being a good reader is critical to success in school. Good readers can read passages from text books, and can comprehend test questions better. Children do not become good readers over night. The only way to become a good reader is by reading. Try to read a book or two together every night. You can take turns and let your child read one page and then you read the next page and so on. This makes the task of reading an entire book much less overwhelming for a young child.

Ask Your Child About School
When your child gets home from school, you should ask them what they did each day. Children will feel as if you really care about what is going on in their life. If they respond with “Nothing,” you can pose more specific questions. Don’t just ask about their grades. Ask them what they did at recess or at lunch. Ask them if anything funny happened during the day. I’m sure they will have a lot of great stories to tell you.

Start The Day Off Right
Give children enough time to get ready in the morning. Do not wake them up five minutes before they need to be at school. Children will have a more productive day at school if their morning gets off to the right start. Make sure they have plenty of time to wake up, get dressed and eat a good breakfast.

Talk About The Future
Let children know early on that you think they are bright and capable. Talk to your child about his or her future. Discuss careers and college from a young age. If you believe in your children, they will believe in themselves.

Make Sure Your Child Is Ready
Children begin getting ready for school long before Kindergarten. Your children need to develop fine motor skills such as holding a pencil or crayon and being able to use scissors. Teach your child how to write their name. There are simple ways that you can help children learn at home. Watch educational programs on TV, read books to your child, color pictures with them, or explore nature together.

Acknowledge Their Success
When your children do well in school, acknowledge their success. If they bring home a terrific report card, get a ribbon in the science fair, or make first chair in band, have a family celebration. You could cook their favorite meal as a reward. Just make sure it’s what they will see as a reward!

Life goals. Money goals. In that order.

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