By Alison Bell
Hard to believe, summer is almost over and school is about to begin. How to start this year right for your child? Here are some easy, researched-backed tips that will help your child be a success in school this year.
Encourage your child to play an instrument. Studies show that children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills, and are more likely to graduate from high school and to attend college. One convenient way to get your child started is to enroll them in your school’s band program.
Have your child read 20 minutes a day, even if none is assigned for homework that day. This exposes your child to 1.8 million words a year. In comparison, children who read one minute a day are exposed to only 8,000 words per year. The pay-off? A bigger vocabulary and greater fluency with reading.
Encourage your child’s love of books, not just e-books. Studies suggest that children tend to focus better on words on a written page versus online books and remember the material better. So take a trip to the library together and have your child get those 20 minutes of reading in the old-fashioned way — with pages you can physically turn!
Follow the work first, play second rule. While many children try to put off homework, it’s better to encourage your child to tackle homework and then enjoy downtime. This instills a work ethic in them that will become engrained as a way of life.
Create an at-home study area. Students do best when they have a quiet, well-stocked place to work at home. Make sure your child has a regular place to do their homework with access to all necessary school supplies, such as pens, a calculator, ruler, note cards and paper.
Get to know your child’s teacher. Children whose parents are involved with their academic lives do better in school. Offer to volunteer in the classroom or to help in another way. If you have a question your child can’t answer, don’t hesitate to contact the teacher. Teachers appreciate it when parents are active in their children’s lives.
Raise the bar high for classroom performance. You don’t want to put undue pressure on your child; however, research shows that when parents expect their children to succeed academically, they achieve more than they otherwise would have. Children generally try to meet parents’ expectations, whether low or high.
Let your child take the lead. When you and your child go on an enrichment field trip or do anything educational together, pretend you’re the student and your child is a teacher and ask, “What do you think is most interesting or important about what we’re seeing?” This will encourage your child to stay engaged while boosting his or her self-esteem. In addition, with this technique, your child is more likely to process and remember the information.
— Alison Bell is the associate director of marketing and communications for Hillsides.