BONNIE LASH FREEMAN – For many of our children and grandchildren, the summer is about to come to an end and school will soon begin again. My experience as an educator has me convinced that all parents and family leaders want their children to have the best school experience possible.
Unfortunately, not all parents understand the requirements necessary to help their children excel as students.
Contrary to what many believe, it is not necessary that parents have had the experience of being great students themselves in order to help their children excel academically.
Instead, here are three reliable commitments parents can make to facilitate classroom success for their children:
Because summers are often more relaxed than the school year, it is important for families to reestablish routines to quickly help students develop consistent bedtimes and waking hours.
Most studies suggest that elementary school students should be in bed between 7:30 – 9 pm for optimal sleep, which leads to higher classroom performance.
Teenagers typically have more homework yet need just as much sleep. Parents should help them create schedules that allow for a balance between sleep, homework, extracurricular activities and wake time using alarm clocks to encourage a sense of self-reliance.
Because technology is such an integral part of the lives of most young people, students with smart phones, iPads, computers or game consoles should also have guidelines set for them on when and how much they use them so they don’t interfere with homework, family time or sleep. Always remember, pre-established rules make life much easier with your young student.
Mealtime should not be consider just a time to consume food. It should be prioritized as a time for students to listen and talk to family members.
At the recent Teen Summit I attended, students were asked, “what could families do differently to ensure their student’s success?”
Many of the responses they provided reflect their desire for more meaningful family interactions. Some of their replies included:
* Show respect to each other and demonstrate manners
* Talk with students and listen to their ideas
* Lead by example by showing us how to do the right thing
* Encourage us
* Get to know us, how we learn and what we think of our teachers
* Get to know our teachers and be aware of upcoming open house sessions and parent-teacher conferences
* Be aware of community resources that can help with academic issues
* Help me set goals
Time together as a family is critical in setting family values. Reunions, traveling in the car, visits with elders, regular meal times and conversations all lend themselves to establishing what families can do to ensure success for their students.
Lastly, setting goals with your students helps develop pre-established conversations as the school year progresses.
As family leaders consider goal-setting discussions, ask yourself these questions:
* What goals do you have for your student this year?
* Does your student know specifically what to expect from you?
* Have you asked them to identify what they expect of themselves?
* Have you considered having intentional behavioral, social, academic, physical, or emotional conversations with your children?
These are just a few important things you can do to make a difference in your child’s academic success. So as summer comes to an end, please remember that the keys to helping your children have a successful upcoming school year can be as simple as developing routines, prioritizing family and setting goals.
Bonnie Lash Freeman is a retired educator with the National Center for Family Literacy. She specializes in family engagement, early childhood and elementary language and literacy development. Bonnie lives in Louisville, KY and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.