Tips for a rewarding school year
Parents have always wanted their children to do well in school and have watched for signs of growth and performance. With so much emphasis placed on achievement and test scores in the national media, however, parents are sometimes too apprehensive about the end result, a problem that can be confusing to the child and an inhibitor to educational growth.
Classes are about to begin in schools, so following are a few suggestions about making the year easier for parent, child and teacher.
• The first day of school is always a day of stress. If the child is entering school for the first time, separation anxiety may require extra time on the part of the parent to make the transition smoother. Talk to the child in a relaxed manner about the importance of the day, then send your child to school properly dressed, well-rested and feeling well physically.
• If the child is entering a new school, he may feel lonely. Try to find a neighbor or friend going to the same school and introduce your child. Attend the pre-registration session with your child and guide him into appropriate groups that will involve him in school activities and establish new friendships.
• If your child has been retained and is reluctant to return to school because he feels a failure or because his friends from the former year will be in a different class, discuss this matter with him freely. Encouragement and praise for any success he will have is important to rebuild his self-esteem. Emphasize that he is not a failure, that he may need extra time to build a solid foundation for future educational experiences.
• Build good communication skills with your child, his teacher and other school personnel. Show an active interest in his work. Keep family discussions about knowledge and school at a positive level.
• Provide stimulating and needed books and magazines in the home. Visit your public library and check out materials for reports and research. Show that you appreciate art and culture by visiting museums and art galleries.
• Set priorities for home study. Have a place available for the child to concentrate and work. Encourage the child to set aside a definite time for study each day.
• Help your children set goals for future educational pursuits. Tell them learning is a life-long activity, that each school day and year is part of an ongoing learning. Reinforce this with the fact that you are still learning both in your work and by independent reading, discussions and travel.
Help them to think about careers in the future. Ask adult friends and relatives to talk about their jobs. Make the child aware of the world of work and emphasize that each job is a contributor to society as a whole and each job is important.
• If your child is still school resistant, you may need to talk with school or health officials to determine if the root cause is more than attitude and apathy. The child’s doctor should be consulted and a psychological or educational evaluation may be necessary to determine if there are learning disabilities. Working with the child on an individual basis often will correct the problem. Special classes are also available within the school.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright 1989