It’s September… and along with the change in season is the change in our children’s routine as it has shifted from summer sleep-in days to settling into the ‘back to school’ blues. Boardwalk shorts, wave boards, and snow cones have been replaced by uniforms, notebooks and school lunches. Higher-order thinking has, in a sense, been demoted from the abstract of video game strategies to concrete solutions in the classroom. Homework, projects, and test preparation have taken precedence; and, once again the single parent is bogged down with aiding in the maintenance of their child’s academic and social standing. Settling into the new school year can be a stressful time for our children, but can also be a tedious task for us. The stress of being a single parent with school aged children can be lessened; and, your children can progress towards academic excellence by following these few simple tips.
At Home: Academics should be your child’s main focus during the week. Start by establishing a routine and schedule for weekdays.
- Identify a daily study time and place. Your child should have a quiet, organized space where he/she completes homework and projects, or studies for tests daily with minimal distractions (cellphones, ipods, radios, and televisions should be turned off). Inspirational or soothing music should be utilized and kept at a low volume for students who need a small amount of noise to get in gear for productivity. You should utilize your child’s study time to check or assist with their homework and/or for the completion of any paperwork sent home by school administration, teachers, or support staff (ie.Nurse). Don’t forget to assist your younger children with purging unneeded papers from their school bags.
- Establish an understanding of expectation. If written homework has not been assigned, your child should know that he/she is still expected to utilize the study time for academics whether it be a review of skills or test preparation.
- Restrict media and games. Media usage and games should be minimalized or restricted, if at all possible, during the school week to alleviate your child’s urge to ‘rush’ through homework or projects for the opportunity to resume the viewing of music videos or sanctioning the slaying of bandits and serpents on video games.
- Identify a specific time for dinner and cleanup as a family. Discussions about school and daily activities or experiences that take place outside of the home should occur during this time. Children tend to feel less pressured about sharing when conversing over a meal.
- Offer education based reinforcements. Reward your child weekly for academic and social successes. Give home consequences for inappropriate behaviors exhibited in school to show your child that you are on one accord with their teachers.
- TALK AND LISTEN. ‘Talk’ to your child about their improvement needs and listen to their concerns. Assist them with progression or locate a program or establishment that can offer assistance (ie. Mentoring and tutoring programs or centers)
At School: Establish a rapport with your child’s teacher
- Attend ‘Back to School’ Night as a mandate for yourself. This is the first official meeting of the school year. It is the time when you can meet your child’s teachers formally to extend assistance and make notable acknowledgement of your involvement and support. You should also have an opportunity to gain knowledge on the academic structure and climate of each teacher’s classroom so you are aware of their overall expectations for students.
- ASK QUESTIONS. Create a short list of questions or concerns you may have before attending ANY meeting (in person or via phone) with teachers or administration.
- Be Proactive. Offer your phone number and email address to each teacher as a means of open communication. Also, request that each teacher keep you aware of academic and social progresses via email at least once a month to stay abreast of any areas in which your child may require assistance.
- Request Alternatives. If for any reason you are unable to attend quarterly Report Card Conferences, make arrangements with your child’s teacher or principal to pick up their report card or have it mailed home. Send in a self- addressed stamped envelope with your child if necessary. ‘Show’ your child that you are serious about their success.
And finally, BE CONSISTENT with implementing and/or practicing both ‘At Home’ and ‘At School’ tips. Your consistency will aid in your ‘Back to School’ blues blossoming into enjoyment, excitement, and intrigue of education for both you and your child. Only eight to nine months left… COUNTDOWN!!!!