By Diana Boggia
Posted Aug 20, 2017 at 11:00 AM
Lots of preparation and anticipation surround the beginning of each new school year, especially with back to school clothes, fun backpacks and all the supplies that add to the excitement. I remember placing my new penny loafer shoes by the edge of my bed, waiting patiently for that first day of school when I could wear them. Even older ’tweens and teens are geared up and ready to reunite with friends, get back onto the sports field and settle in to the place where they spend nearly 10 months of their lives each year
Unfortunately, as we’ve all experienced, once the newness wears off and the homework piles on, the complaints get louder, assignments take a back seat to other scheduling conflicts, bedtime and morning alarms are ignored, and frustration rises all around. Want to avoid all that this year? You can, with a plan.
Dedication and not-so-hard work.
Being dedicated to a successful school year requires some panning and consistency, but the benefits far outweigh any sacrifices you’ll make. And remember, it’s always easier to make exceptions to the rules and loosen the reins than it is to pull them in after grades have plummeted. Organize homework time and after school activities like a coach training his players. Provide the support, encouragement and enthusiasm of a cheerleader. Don’t expect your child to know the rules or follow them without continuous reinforcement. A simple, verbal acknowledgement or encouraging word is often enough. Teach what you expect, the way a teacher would in a classroom. And lastly, be that organized, thoughtful, even-tempered parent that provides the structure and support every child needs.
Be their coach — A coach determines the training schedule, develops the game strategy, explains player expectations and commitment, and reinforces with daily drills and individualized training. In your house that might look like a welcome back party conversation with some fun, party food while explaining homework priorities and rules. Invite everyone involved (the whole team) to review expected bedtimes, morning routines and all the other rules, such as TV, phone privileges or computer games only after homework. Friends are welcome, but homework still comes first, so, if necessary, help them complete it together, quickly, with the motivation that they can play as soon as they’re finished. Explain thoroughly, ask for questions, don’t assume they can read your mind or know your expectations, and stick to the game plan, just as their coach would. Players get a big win as a result of their hard work. You can reinforce their academic work ethic by allowing them to earn weekend activities or sleepover privileges. Use your leverage as a parent. Remember, you make the rules, and reinforcement is always more effective than nagging or yelling.
Be their cheerleader — Cheerleaders encourage and lift spirits. Find ways to make homework fun with great after-school snacks and lots of support, both academic and emotional. Provide an at-home school toolbox with all their supplies in one place, and refill with seasonal pencils, etc. to keep the motivation going. When attitudes need some fine-tuning ask, “How can I help?”
Be their teacher — Teach them how to study; they might not know how. Set them up for success with the same thought that a classroom teacher does. Determine the best location for homework, show them how to be organized, and cater to your child’s learning style. Visual learners do well when things are clearly laid out, color coded or outlined for an easy visual overview. Auditory learners remember what they hear. Try reading the subject matter and asking questions for comprehension. Clap out math patterns and spelling words, or make up rhymes to remember states, science equations or other facts to be memorized. Kinesthetic or tactile learners use their hands or carry out physical activities rather than listen to a lecture or watch demonstrations. Teach measurements by measuring, reinforce spelling with magnetic letters, dance to the state capitols or presidents, and use manipulatives whenever possible for a hands on experience. Most children have a preferred learning style, but many are successful when you access them all for a comprehensive, multi-sensory learning experience.
Be their parent — Incorporate all the above, and be consistent with an encouraging, positive attitude. Follow the rules you’ve set, bend them only every once in a while when the specific need arises and reinforce the importance of school, studying and learning to make this year the best yet. Lastly, make the type of commitment to your kids that you expect from them.
Diana Boggia, M.Ed. is a parent coach and author of “Parenting with a Purpose”. Send your family-related questions to FamilyMatters@Cantonrep.com. Find videos and parent resources on Facebook, Parent with a Purpose, and links to her Repository columns at http://www.ParentWithaPurpose.com.