Getting Schooled

Help your child learn to love the classroom.

Your child becomes an eager learner when you value education. And when you use your powerful influence to foster your child’s enjoyment in school, you give him a key to lifetime success.

While a teacher has your child for perhaps a year, you have your child for the full marathon of schooling. You’ve invested in your child from the get-go. Now practice these ways to build a prosperous academic experience for the long haul.

  • Establish school bedtimes and morning routines. A well-rested child is less distracted and better prepared than a tired child to handle the rigors of the classroom. As a result, the rested child learns more. Morning routines give a child security because he feels his world is organized.
  • Make breakfast matter. “Consumption of this morning meal is one of the most important things a child does all day,” says Erica Lesperance, a registered dietitian specially trained in pediatric nutrition. “A healthy breakfast positively impacts brain function and energy level, which is extremely important for school-aged children.” In a 1998 Harvard/Kellogg School Breakfast Program study, kids who ate a morning meal earned higher math grades than those who skipped breakfast. Oatmeal and whole-grain cereals with bran are great breakfast options for keeping kids sated until lunchtime.
  • Attend the school’s special days and parent/teacher meetings. During these times, you can view your child’s work and school exhibits. Most important, such occasions often afford you a voice in your child’s learning goals.
  • Say encouraging statements to your child. Consider utterances such as, “I’m glad you listen to your teacher” and “I’m proud you completed that homework assignment.” Your statements can be inspirational.
  • Get your child’s hearing checked. Hearing loss is common in kids. It makes it difficult for children to understand classroom instructions or learn proper pronunciation.
  • Plan constructive use of afterschool time. Children need some down time to relax at the end of each school day. However, research indicates that children who watch TV more than ten hours per week are at greater risk of school failure. The humorist Groucho Marx quipped: “I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book.”
  • Buy an inexpensive chalkboard for your child’s bedroom. Write his plans, goals or assignment for the next day, checking off each when finished. The visual reminder can motivate your child to stay on task.
  • Praise progress not perfection. Too many parents nitpick or nag their children for not having flawless schoolwork. Children get excited about improving when parents applaud small accomplishments.
  • Together with your child, create thank-you notes or simple gifts for teachers. Books celebrating the profession of teaching are readily available in bookstores and online. Kids can also bake goodies or make decorative soaps as gifts. A fond memory of mine is gathering in the kitchen with my sibling and mother to decorate soap just before Christmas. We would cut a pretty picture from a magazine and glue it onto a bar of soap that mom bought just for gift-giving. Then we’d dip the soap ever so gently in melted paraffin wax to coat the picture. This made the soap useful while protecting the picture. We would package two bars of soap together in a gift box to present to our teacher. By doing this, we learned to appreciate those who taught us in the classroom. I wonder if that is why I’m an educator today.
  • Decorate your child’s room with a map. Maps make inexpensive wall adornments that assist in teaching geography.
  • Show confidence in your child’s capability in any subject. Your attitude sends a strong message to your child. After all, you are perhaps your child’s biggest influence and greatest teacher.