How to Make This A Successful School Year

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Schools will be open soon and the year of learning, activity, and excitement will be upon us. For kids and parents this can be a rewarding experience or a dreaded problem. Here are a few tips to make your school year a pleasant one.

I believe school-time success begins with an enjoyable summer. Summer should be as different from the school year as possible. Schedules, deadlines, and appointments govern school time. Summer should be more relaxed, schedules foregone and fun should reign supreme. There should be lower expectations and less stress. Summertime does not mean no responsibility, just less. It must still contain learning experiences and times of discovery, but in a more casual setting then than the classroom. A fun summer will make it easier for kids to settle back into a more serious routine for the school setting.

Get kids ready for school by showing your excitement. Parents should be excited by the prospect of kids learning and growing, not just by the idea that they will be out of the house more often. For me, preparing for school was exciting. Like other kids, I loved shopping for new clothes and school supplies. Fall still brings a wonderful hopeful feeling when I open a fresh, clean ream of paper, or find a perfectly balanced pen with just the right point. The newness of school supplies indicates a new beginning. The child should see an opportunity to surpass the last year's performance. The parent should see a chance to guide their kids along a path that is conducive to the learning process. Plan a whole day of school shopping, have lunch, have fun. Get excited.

A school needs rules, and so does a household. Parents must have expectations concerning school attendance, tardiness, homework completion, and extra-curricular activities. Schools have all these plus behavior guidelines they must follow. Parents make sure your son or daughter understands what is expected of them by the school and by you. These issues must be explained, and rules set down. Be firm and consistent.

Help kids make a schedule that works best for study time. Purchase an assignment book and parents and children should both refer to it. Mark school assignment deadlines on a calendar at home.

Find a quiet place for them to study where there is a good surface to write on and adequate lighting. Add resources and supplies as possible. If your budget allows provide a home computer, a wonderful tool for research. A good dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia are helpful. Everything else can be found at the library.

Kids need to learn typing and computer use early as possible. They must be acquainted with how to look up information in the library. I believe a child needs a library card as soon as they can walk.

Be on hand to help any student, even high school kids, with their homework. You may not know all the answers, but should be able to direct them as to where to get help.

Reading to young children and having older ones read to you cannot be over emphasized for importance. Discussing current events and interesting topics at the dinner table, along with hearing about their day, goes far to promoting conversation skills and casually educating your child.

Arrange 'field trips' throughout the summer and school year. Do not rely on the schools to do this. A few hours of reading background information will turn you into the best tour guide ever. Your kids are just gonna love a tour guide who also gives them spending money.

For kids who have learning difficulties, take advantage of everything. Special education programs, alternative schools, tutors, and extra help from teachers are all excellent for helping the challenged learner.

Those of you with kids who 'forget' homework, need to be firm. Make sure it is completed correctly, regularly, and on time. Less than truthful kids can be checked up on with a call once a week to the schoolteacher. (We chose Friday's, as weekend 'free time' depended on its completion.) They can update you on the child's progress and give you a list of assignments handed in and outstanding. Weekend fun should not begin until the child has completed all outstanding assignments or a reasonable amount of them.

Discipline problems in school should be also addressed at home. After a few times of 'double trouble'. The child may straighten out. If results are still not positive, get help from school counselors, a good therapist, or law enforcement. Don't let the problem get out of hand before you act.

Practice these few tips and you may be in for a rewarding and successful school year.

Credits: Jo Ann Wentzel

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