With Back-To-School well behind us and report cards on their way, it’s the perfect time to assess whether your child has all that he or she needs for a successful school year. We run around crazy trying to get 32 glue sticks and color coordinated supplies by September but now that November is almost at a close, what might have been overlooked?
Here are FIVE areas to assess to ensure the most successful school year.
- Study Space – Do you have a study space? It is clear of clutter, mail, to-do’s and distraction? Growing up I did my homework on my bed most of the time but honestly I was most focused and attentive when I sat at the dining room table where I could sit up straight and easily get to the supplies I needed. Keep study spaces away from toys and tv’s if possible as it is best to minimize the distractions. Having a consistent space for homework and study is important – it builds good habit to know exactly where to go for quiet and space.
- Supplies – Are pencils sharpened? Are supplies easy to get to for projects and everyday assignments? My daughter (kindergarten) has a worksheet three to four times a week that requires glue and scissors. At first my husband and I said we’ll continue to put the scissors in their regular secured location but after learning that she’ll need them almost everyday, we decided to just keep them in her reach with her other supplies. Same thing applies to her glue stick and she has learned to be responsible for these items and keeps them in her crayon box for daily use. Are there supplies that were overlooked at the start of school? Or perhaps a failed attempt at loose-leaf paper should be replaced with notebooks? This is the time to reassess what’s needed and what’s not. Those not so common items (a ruler in our case) are left to a separate container so not to be in the way or offer distraction.
- Homework Check – In the beginning we’re all really good about checking that homework is complete… but come November, are you still just as diligent? Are you initialing the school planners, emailing the teacher with questions and generally checking in for progress and monitoring interest? Are you keeping track of the things that come easy versus the items that have been difficult? This can include actual assignments OR study habits. Does your child need 15 mins to burn off some energy or let off steam before digging into assignments, or is your child better off immediately getting to homework since 15 mins easily becomes 45? Take a look at the homework environment. Is homework in the kitchen distracting with running water or a running dishwasher? While it may be easier as parents to have our children do homework in our presence (kitchen table) it may be necessary to carve time out to meet them in the best environment for concentration and questions. And about the assignments, which subjects does your child prefer and how can you get involved at home? This is the time to make changes to study patterns, extra help or adding a layer of family influence.
- Family Calendar – From young infants our children rely on routine. Keep in mind that most children want to know what is expected of them and what they can expect in return. Keep a family calendar handy and encourage family participation, meaning soccer games and play dates are entered as well as science projects, Mom/Dad date night and such. Knowing when family game night is allows children to get excited about it and knowing when a babysitter is expected offers them the opportunity to prepare by getting homework done sooner or anticipating what to do with the babysitter. Keeping everyone informed (or mostly informed) provides less stress for our children. This can be extremely key for a successful school year for some children while others are more comfortable with a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants routine. This is just another tool, should you have children driven by routine or multiple kids to keep engaged.
- Organization – This means school forms, mail and bills. Keeping everything organized offers peace of mind for the entire family. Nothing like brushing your teeth in the morning while writing out a check for a school function due THAT day. Set up a folder system for upcoming events or notices – things that need NOT be forgotten. Make a folder for incoming school paperwork and projects. Make sure there is a system in places for returned items (forms, homework, doctor notes, permission slips and payments). Keep your bills and mail in order too… as they can add to the chaos.
A few tips here and there to ensure we’re all on track for providing the best environment, the best study habits and the best support for our children.