Setting kids up for school success is different for every family. Success is determined by the goals you set together, and your child’s ability and effort to achieve them, as well as the support they receive from you and the rest of the family.
For some kids, success means getting themselves dressed. For others, it’s completing homework on time. The goals you choose with your child will be specific to their needs and abilities, but there are also lots of ways to help your child reach those goals and be successful.
Here are 13 back-to-school tips for parents that will help you support your kids to have the best year yet:
Work with your child to determine 3-5 goals that won’t come easy, but are achievable. Use this smart format to guide you: I want to ______________ by [insert a date]. I will ______________ to meet my goal. Here are some examples to get you started:
- I want to improve my spelling by November. I will write my spelling words three times weekly to meet my goal.
- I want to hand in every assignment on time. I will organize all my papers into subject folders to meet my goal.
Create a Launch Pad
Going back to school requires new tools for being prepared. Looking for items during the school year wastes a lot of time. Give each child one area to put their lunchbox, backpack, outdoor clothing, and school project materials. If you see them around the house, ask your child to bring them back to the launch pad. Getting kids into this habit will pay off big in the long run.
Teach Organizational Skills
Organized kids stay focused. For schoolwork, it means having a planner and homework folder to keep track of homework and projects. The older the child, the more they need different subject folders. Check your child’s planner and homework folder every school night so you’re familiar with assignments and your child doesn’t fall behind. Set up a spot for papers that you need to check or sign. Also, keep a special place for completed and graded projects and toss papers that you don’t need to keep. It’s also helpful to teach your child how to make a to-do list to help prioritize and get things done.
Know the School Rules
Check out the school website and classroom handbooks to learn school rules and regulations. The more you know, the more you can help remind your child and avoid challenges during the year.
Get Your Kids to School
Attendance matters. When kids aren’t in school, they can’t always keep up. The more regular a child’s attendance, the better the academic and social performance.
Keep Your Child Healthy
Make sure your child is eating healthy foods, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of sleep. It’s hard to focus on the hard work of learning when you’re hungry, thirsty, or tired.
Talk about Active Learning
Kids need both active and passive learning experiences. It’s easier to understand what teachers mean when they want kids to sit and listen, but active learning is different. It requires processing, questioning, and satisfying curiosity. Talk through your process as an active learning and ask your kids what they might do next to learn more.
Make Reading a Daily Focus
Every teacher agrees that the students who do best read every day. Help your kids figure out what they like to read and get those books or magazines in their hands. Make sure your kid has a library card and goes to the library weekly to choose lots of books.
Advocate For Your Child
You know your child best. The more you share what you see in regard to how your child does in school, the better school can serve your child. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and schedule meetings to talk about your child’s success.
Teach Your Child Social Skills
When kids are kind, respectful, and polite, other people are kind in response. This means your child will have a better experience out in the world.
Talk about Math
We tend to focus so much on reading because we know it’s so valuable for achievement that we forget to talk about math. Show your kids how math comes into play in everyday life, like in cooking, measuring, time management, and shopping.
If you see your child putting in a huge amount of effort into homework or a school project, talk about it. “I am so amazed by how much work you’ve put into this” is more powerful in the long-term versus “Your project looks fantastic!”
Measure Goal Progress
Instead of measuring the end of a goal, consider checking in with your kids on their progress. Set up a date to talk about what they’re working toward and what they still need to do. Children who understand that there’s more to a school year than September and June will learn to value the days in between.
Helping your kids by explicitly teaching these life lessons will benefit them throughout their school years and beyond. The more you focus on this time in their lives as a learning experience, the more you’ll see how much they change and grow in such a short period of time.
Kimberley Moran is the mom of two children and the step-mom to two young adults. She is a senior digital editor at WeAreTeachers.com where she helps teachers improve the lives of kids everywhere. She was a teacher for 15 years, working to make sure children were both seen and heard. She wrote the book, Hacking Parenthood: Ten Mantras You Can Use Daily to Reduce the Stress of Parenting, to help all parents simplify their lives and love raising children. She lives in Maine with her family.