Just as the world around us is changing, so too is the way our education system is working to develop the minds and attitudes of our children. While school programming focuses more on higher levels of thinking, more of the basic skills to succeeding in school, and ultimately in life, are left to parents. How can you help your children excel in school and beyond? What basic skills do you need to focus on?
- Organization is key
Teaching kids to juggle multiple roles ensures you are raising kids who will excel in time management and the challenges of work, family and other activities when they are older. For now, that means teaching kids how to organize and schedule their time so they can fit everything in without being overwhelmed. A family organizer can be a great way to start. Build a structure that includes their extracurricular activities, family events and so on, build in regular homework time, and then help guide them to begin the habit of adding in events and activities with friends, special projects that may be assigned, and other tasks. This can be done with children when they are very young and the sooner they learn, the better they’ll be able to handle all that life has in store.
- Plan ahead
Ask any teacher and they’ll say the bulk of their class is filled with kids who wait until the last minute to start on projects and assignments. Perhaps you remember doing the same yourself. One great habit to help kids excel in school is the trick of planning ahead by planning backwards. Take an assignment that’s due in a month for instance, add that to the calendar a few days before it is due and then work backward, adding stages and components of the project on the calendar based on how long you think each will take. That way, you have milestones between when a project is assigned and when it is due that not only breaks a big task into manageable chunks, but also teaches kids the habit of working on projects as they’re assigned.
- Study habits are key
The best way to study will depend on your child and how they learn. For some, writing out notes they can then read aloud is the trick to committing things to memory, for others, mnemonic devices may be key. Schools may tell kids that they have to study, but teaching them how to study will be up to you. This is something that can also be built into a family organizer. Perhaps Saturday morning you block off an hour of time to go through the notes of the previous week to write out cue cards and study notes. Or perhaps every night for 15 minutes. Either way, planning for and committing to that time is key.
Organization of the work space – and having a designated work space – can also be key. Understanding that sitting at a computer desk or a quiet area in the house means homework time, helps kids avoid the distractions of trying to do homework with the television on or music in the background. It may seem a chore at first but once they get used to quiet, dedicated homework time, they’ll appreciate how much more quickly they can get things done.
- Basic communication
With all of the text speak kids use today, teaching kids basic grammar skills, asking them to write notes to grandparents, or even to you if they are going out, are just a few simple ways to make sure kids understand and are fluent in the basic communication skills they’ll need as they progress in school and beyond.
- Instill a love of reading
From a very young age, read with children, and make sure you keep reading with them and encouraging them to read on their own. While you’re packing your family organizer with activities and events and homework, remember to slot in some quiet reading time. Whether it is a Saturday morning ritual or a bedtime ritual, whether you keep track of books read or keep it casual, ensuring kids can read and love reading will not only help your children excel in school, but give them an interest they will use for life.
- Teach balance
Teaching kids balance will also help your children excel in school in the long run. Without balance kids become frustrated, stressed, and anxious. When kids associate these negative feelings with school, it can lead to a whole host of issues. Teaching kids to balance time, to get work done but also to know when to take a break, can be the difference between kids enjoying school or not.
- Understand it isn’t just about the numbers
Much of the feedback your child will receive in school will be based on numbers (or letter grades) but that doesn’t always tell the whole story and can be very frustrating for a child who struggles with traditional forms of learning. Help kids understand what is important to you as a family – hard work, best effort – and they’ll be less frustrated if the numbers aren’t always in their favor.
- Teach social skills
It’s amazing to consider the skills that school now focuses on. From presentations that teach kids about public speaking, to group projects that require kids to engage, share ideas and collaborate with peers, it really isn’t just about the books any longer. You can help kids excel in these skills by enrolling them in activities outside of school where they can learn confidence, leadership, and develop the ability to work with a group. Even if your family calendar seems packed, a once a month activity or club focused on these extra social skills can go a long way.
- Teach kids the value of time
By organizing, teaching kids to plan and schedule, and showing them the limits and boundaries of time, you will also be teaching a respect for time. When a family organizer can illustrate that you too value and structure your time, you show kids that this structure isn’t something you impose, but something you value. Whether that translates into kids who show up on time for meetings or appointments or practices, hand things in on time, or one day, show up for dates on time, that appreciation of time will put them in a good place for the future.
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