How to Have a Fantastic School Year this YearBy: Jacqueline Thompson Graves
As a parent, you do make the rules. Setting limits is part of your job, the no fun part. Teaching your child self-discipline and how to stick to a routine is a life skill he will thank you for some day. We all know adults who could use help in this area! Many of the tips below are common sense, but we all need to be reminded of them again at the beginning of the school year.
- Get back to school year bedtimes and meal times even before school starts so everyone's internal clock is reset before the first day of school. Start the new schedule at least a week before school actually begins.
- Your third grader cannot live a healthy life and do well at school on six hours of sleep every night (and truthfully, neither can you). Daylight saving time can be an enemy of bedtime, especially if the bus comes early in the morning. Consider room darkening shades if someone needs to be in bed before 9pm.
- A study at Brown Medical School and Bradley Hospital showed students who got eight hours or less of sleep per night had more trouble recalling old material as well as learning new things and cranking out quality work. "Just staying up late can cause increased academic difficulty and attention problems for otherwise healthy, well-functioning kids," said Gahan Fallone, the study's lead author. Middle school children need lots of sleep, as much as 10 or 12 hours per night. Boys this age are growing (and eating!) as fast as they were when they were babies. Many schools have accommodated this by starting middle school as late as 9am, but if your young teenager isn't getting to bed until midnight, he is going to be a grump. Win this battle, for the health of it.
- Make the first day of school something to look forward to. Students can wear a favorite or new outfit. Have some of the school supplies purchased and buy at least one fun notebook, even if the plain ones are five for a dollar. Your children are never too old for a plate of warm cookies and a listening ear.
- Limit TV and video game time during the school year. Even if homework is done, surely there is a better activity your student can engage in than watching TV or battling another virtual enemy. Reserve TV for weekends or as a reward. But that may mean you have to model moderation by unparking yourself.
- Be wary of the activities trap. If your family calendar has something scheduled every 30 minutes, you are headed for burnout. Students and adults require down time, play time and margin for unexpected events, even illness. Rather than enroll in every activity that interests him, help your child discover one or two things about which he is passionate and for which he is suited. Let him pursue excellence in a special activity and the satisfaction which comes from it. It may even turn out to be his vocation or a lifelong love.
- Stay in touch with the school so you know if your child has an issue before it becomes huge. Lauren Henderson of Tutoring Tree shares, "Kids of upper levels just won't raise their hands in class and ask for help because they don't want to look stupid." As a result, the student can end up in the weeds by progress report time.
- Henderson advises parents to especially pay attention during the 9th grade year as it is critical to the overall high school grade point average. "Many parents don't realize that the senior year grades are not going to make much difference when it comes to getting scholarships and getting accepted into college," she explains. By Christmas break of a student's senior year, many scholarships are already awarded based on freshman, sophomore and junior grades. Senior grades can hurt a student, but they may not help much. What matters the most is what a high schooler does those first three years. It is important that kids coming out of middle school into high school "get it". They may not even be thinking about college yet. This is where a goals setting talk can help a student look past the moment and take ownership of his future.
- If you are looking at college options, click here to see our article on college preparations offering advice for the college bound (9th grade and up).
© 2011 Jacqueline Thompson Graves
Contact Jacqueline online email@example.com.