By Bob Roach
The time is almost here for your child to go back to school. How can we make this year this best that it can be? In the next few paragraphs I will give you some ideas that will improve the educational experience for your child.
If this year is going to be more successful than last year, something has to change. I am going to advise you to focus on just three areas to improve your childs' attitude and aptitude in school. These are the three areas I advise you to concentrate on: Goal setting, reading, and incentives.
Before the new school year starts, you as a parent, should sit down with your child and discuss the previous years progress in school. At this time you need to positively encourage and praise the accomplishments of the previous year. I know that you are creative enough to find positive feedback. Then it is important that you discuss the importance of having a written plan for the start of a new year.
This is where you introduce the idea of goal setting. Talk about the importance of knowledge and how much power it gives us over those who are not educated. Let your child know that you think education is important. Be real and sensitive with your child as you share your own educational experiences with them.
Then the two of you need to write down at least three realistic short term and two long term goals for the up coming year. If you are like most of us you are thinking... like what. That depends on the child. If you have a child that is in the second grade and they read on the fifth grade level, then you may want to challenge your child to read books of his or her choice that are at the sixth grade reading level. However if they are already a strong reader, you may want to challenge them to spend more time reading science or social studies material. Make the goal specific. (Read magazine articles about science in the first week of school for thirty minutes every other day)
Short term goals should address the weaknesses, that you are aware of, from the previous year. If spelling was a problem then set a realistic goal to be able to spell a specific number of new words each week.
Long term goals on the other hand should deal with outcomes. They should also deal with the ability to do something rather than just having knowledge. A basketball player learns to pass, dribble and shoot. A long term goal would be the ability to actually play the game. A sixth grader needs to know about the scientific method. The long term goal would be using the scientific method to either prove or disprove a theory. Post your goals on the bulletin board or refrigerator in your house.
I can not over emphasise the importance of encouraging your child to read. You can not start too early. Every one preaches about reading to your infant and that is important. But, we must get our children to transition from being read to, to reading for either knowledge or entertainment. I include entertainment because of the importance of having good early experiences in reading. Not only will this help your children comprehend more but it will also help them write better!
I can hear you now. "How do I get my child to actually do anything? I can't even get him to make up his bed or empty the trash." It is at this point that I inform you that if they are young it is easy. All you have to do is work on their value system. Continually lead by example so that your young child will know that you value education. It is amazing how much they want to be like us when they are little. Do you remember when your child had that play lawn mower and wanted to mow just like dad. Well, let me tell you. If your child does not see you reading and leading by example then it will be very difficult to convince them that they should value education.
On the other hand, if they are already in middle school, you may have to work even harder. Because now your child will not think it is important just because you say it is. It will take a very creative parent to make fun and games into learning experiences that will enhance a childs' education. Now you have to be creative enough to make it fun. I can not over emphasise the importance of making sure that your child has a value in education. Very few people do anything if they do not believe in it.
Let's review our keys to success, If we want this school year to be a great learning experience for our child we must put a plan in place by setting short and long term goals. If we do this we will send a great message to our child. They will know that we our willing to invest our time in helping them have a productive year. We must also make reading available and fun for them. And in order for this plan to work we must make sure they have incentives to actually do the work.
Here is to you! A toast, "May you and your children have a productive, educational, and fulfilling year."
Bob Roach Father of one and middle school teacher of literally thousands over the past thirty years. To find out more parenting tips write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org