Miami-Dade children have returned to school. Now that the initial excitement and anticipation over getting back into the classroom has largely waned, it’s a great time for parents to set the tone at home for the year ahead to keep kids enthusiastic about learning. And that means being involved.
According to the National Committee for Citizens in Education, children with parents who take an active role in their education attend school more regularly, earn better grades, enroll in higher-level programs and have higher graduation rates. It’s crystal clear: Reinforcing at home what your kids are doing in school has a significant academic impact and helps ensure your child has every opportunity for success.
How can you make that happen? Your “lesson plan” follows:
- Check backpacks. Establish a routine in which kids clear out their backpacks at the end of the school day, so you can check any work and papers coming home. Remind your children that you’re there to help should they need homework assistance.
- Ask questions. Maintaining an open, ongoing dialogue with your child about what they’re doing in school is essential to ensuring a safe and happy, learning environment, as well as developing an active and positive relationship.
- Praise their work. Show enthusiasm about what your children are learning and comment positively on their efforts.
- Encourage reading. Thirty minutes of reading a day reinforces vocabulary lessons and helps maintain fluency and comprehension skills. The Children’s Trust’s ongoing #Read30 initiative – a challenge to parents to read with their children 30 minutes a day, every day, take a selfie while doing so and post it to their social media pages with #Read30 – is a really fun way to do that.
- Keep a set bedtime. Ensuring your child gets enough sleep is critical for optimal learning and overall well-being.
- Don’t over schedule. High-quality after-school programs and activities are vital components of a child’s academic success, but you don’t want your kids so busy that they don’t have down time to reflect and regroup.
- Stick to a schedule. Strive for consistency in your child’s homework time, family mealtime, bedtime, wake-up time and any other daily rituals. This helps kids maintain their school mindset and improve their focus in the classroom right up to the last day of school.
- Link routines to learning. Everything can be a lesson, depending on your child’s age. So, for example, a child learning to wash their hands during bathroom breaks can also be taught science concepts (body parts, hygiene, water conservation), reading (bathroom signage), antonyms (hot/cold, left/right) and math (counting).
- Visit other “classrooms.” Going to libraries, science centers, museums and living history locations reiterates academic lessons and helps children make the connection between what they’re learning in the classroom and real life.
- Custom fit learning. Have a history buff at home? A budding artist? A techie wizard? Play to those interests by signing your child up for enrichment classes and encouraging their talents.
- Provide incentives. Never underestimate the power of a reward for a good grade, such as extra TV time or a special outing. Dangling a carrot, no matter how big or small, can make a difference in keeping your child engaged.
- Take a class. Enroll yourself in something that’s both educational and enjoyable, such as a music or dance class, STEM seminar or something else that captures your interest. Being an active partner in your child’s academic experience offers an opportunity to learn new skills together – and have a great time in the process.
- Become a familiar figure. Make yourself known to your child’s teacher and keep the lines of communication open to ensure you’re both working together to support your child. Every child’s educational experience, after all, is a shared responsibility between families and educators.
- Plan outdoor time. Walk to a local park after school, sign your child up for an outdoor sports league and go hiking, biking or camping as often you can. Being outside — weather permitting — is a fantastic way to clear the mind and reinvigorate the body. Physical activities also help kids unleash pent-up energy.
- Play board games. This is a great — and subtle — way to reiterate math and English lessons, as well as critical thinking skills, creativity, teamwork and good sportsmanship. Games deepen learning by satisfying your child’s competitive urges and offer a fun way to master new skills and concepts.
- Join your PTA. Get involved with your local parent teacher association to stay on top of educational news and concerns. It’s also a terrific way to meet other involved parents.