January 1st isn’t the only time of the year for resolutions. Any parent with school-aged children will tell you that back-to-school can also feel like a fresh start! There is excitement as you shop for new clothes, gather school supplies, and plan how you will do things differently in the upcoming school year. Perhaps there is a little bit of anxiety mixed in with your enthusiasm for what lies ahead.
Whether you are a parent who exclusively teaches your children in the home or one who simply looks forward to being a more involved parent in a conventional school education — you probably have grand plans and expectations for what the school year will bring.
Here are five awesome and pretty straightforward tips to help you successfully transform those expectations into achievements and keep those “school year’s resolutions” — if you will!
1.) Establish a Realistic Schedule
A friend once said to me, “When you say ‘no’ to one thing, you are saying ‘yes’ to something else.” That stuck with me and it has proven to be so very true many times over— whenever I have said, “No!” to yet another extra-curricular commitment, what I found myself saying was, “Yes!” to less stress and more family time. In our hectic modern-day lives, we often neglect family down time; however, overlooking its relevance in the healthy development of a child and the well-being of a family could be detrimental. A realistic schedule is of great value for every member of the household, but especially the youngest members. The younger a child, the fewer scheduled activities that child should be committed to.
2.) Provide Organization and Consistency in Each Day
By virtue of human nature, adults work most efficiently and with the greatest degree of measurable success on a schedule and with consistency in life from day to day. So it shouldn’t surprise us that it’s no different for our children; therefore, organizing their day and providing consistency will work equally well for your child. Schedules teach children the invaluable life-skill of basic time management. Providing consistency in their daily life establishes a stable environment with equilibrium. Together, organization and consistency result in enhancing academic success through greater productivity, prideful accomplishments, higher levels of self-esteem, and sheer delight in learning.
3.) Communicate Your Expectations
No one has more influence on your child’s education and potential accomplishments than you — no one! As a matter of fact, research strongly suggests that the more involved a parent is in their child’s education and the higher the expectations they have, the better that child will perform. Don’t be afraid to set expectations for your children, it is an essential responsibility of parenting. Of course, those expectations should be set within reason and with due consideration for each individual child’s age and developmental level. Expectations, set properly, communicate messages to your children about what is important to you and establish a standard toward which children can strive. Praise your child’s strengths and accomplishments, acknowledge and offer support for any weaknesses and deficiencies. In the face of adversity or struggle, let them know that you are confident in their resilience and that anything is possible with enough hard work.
4.) Focus on Family Meal Time
When my twins were born, my husband’s grandmother — a grade school teacher and principal — made me promise that no matter the circumstances, I would ensure that we had dinner as a family every single night. She claimed that it would be the most important thing I ever did for my children. At the time, I didn’t think much of it; however, it turns out that 20 years of research in North America, Europe, and Australia have validated Mimi’s theory — that sitting down for a nightly meal together as a family is great for the brain, the body, and the spirit. In this study: children who ate dinner with their parents were more likely to talk to their parents, had a better relationship with their parents, and were found to have less stress in their lives. I am so glad that I kept my promise to Mimi over the years — even if it meant having dinner quite late some nights — she was right, it was the best thing I ever did for my children.
In addition, we saw breakfast as a secondary opportunity for family meal time. No matter how frenzied the mornings can be, making time for a healthy and relaxing family breakfast not only fuels the body and brain with food nutrients, which are invaluable to learning throughout the day, it also offers a time for you to help organize each family member’s day. It turns out that the collective benefits a family breakfast offers in the way of health, nutrition, learning, and organizing the day far outweigh the benefits of a few more minutes of sleep.
5.) Keep Everything in Perspective and Celebrate Childhood
Childhood truly is a magical time for development. Obviously, school is important; however, social, emotional, physical, and even — to some extent — cognitive development needs more stimuli than what can be provided in a classroom setting. This is the reason that some level of learning in the home is crucial to overall educational success; furthermore, make sure that some of those learning opportunities are presented through play. We must not forget the benefits of play; it allows children to use creativity, develop their imagination, and interact with the world around them. These opportunities can be play dates with friends or relaxing family time playing board games, reading, hiking, or even interacting with the family pet. While your children are young, end every day by cuddling with them for a bedtime story. Bedtime reading and creative storytelling promotes literacy, fosters an emotional bond between parents and children, and reminds both you and your children what matters most in the world!
Incidentally — just because parents always ask: a great rule of thumb for time spent on homework in grades K-6 is 10 minutes per grade. So in other words, 10 minutes for first grade, 20 minutes for second grade, 30 minutes for third grade, and so on and so forth.
As your summer winds down keep these five tips in mind for a successful school year. Always remember, a school affords opportunities for our children to grow and learn in a multitude of ways. But, your interest in knowledge and encouragement towards education from home is imperative in leading your child to a genuine passion for exploring, a profound joy in discovering, and a heartfelt love of learning. My sincerest wishes for a wonderful, healthy, and productive school year. May all your resolutions hold true!
Oh! And by the way, we'd be ever so grateful if you'd...
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