It may only be the end of July, but preparation is already underway for the upcoming school year. Teachers are working to complete their lessons, students are scrambling to finish their summer reading, and schools are offering their professional development opportunities. Visit any school from now until the first day of classes, and you will find much activity in the classrooms and offices. So, what are some things students and parents can do to start thinking in the right direction for a successful school year?
Tip #1. Develop good relationships with teachers.
First of all, the relationship with the teacher is a critical element. There’s one important reason why students need to get along with their teachers. Kids who get along with their teachers not only learn more, but they’re more comfortable asking questions and getting extra help. This makes it easier to understand new material and do their best. When they have this kind of relationship with a teacher, he or she can be someone to turn to with problems such as learning problems or school issues such as bullying. They are also learning valuable life lessons about decorum, diversity, conflict resolution, respect, and responsibility.
Parents also need to cultivate a positive relationship with teachers. Any questions or concerns should always be brought directly to the teacher first in efforts to problem solve. Bypassing the teacher and going directly to administration is almost always a bad idea and will many times prevent or impede a positive outcome. Remember, respect is a two way street, and you get what you give. Parents who work with teachers to build trust and honest,open dialogue create a wonderful alliance on behalf of their children. Frequent communication is a cornerstone of student success.
Tip #2. Get organized and strive for balance.
Organization and planning are keys to a positive educational experience. A planner, family calendar, or other scheduling tool can help a family fulfill all obligations and get through each day without too much stress. With only 24 hours to work with, students need adequate sleep and down time. That is quite a challenge with after school lessons and sports, chores, family time, and homework. Experts have said that students should have only about 10 minutes of homework per grade level. That would mean that ideally, a 6th grader would have no more than 60 minutes and a senior would have no more than 2 hours of homework. After a 8-9 hour school day, there must be time free time for other non-school related activities. Video games, internet usage, and television need limits as well.
Tip #3. Begin a healthy food plan.
What we put inside our children is as important as what we put around them. Far too many young people today try to fuel their learning on nothing but sugar and fat. They eat sugary cereal or pastries for breakfast, then crash mid morning and shut down all mental processes. They snack on more sugar and empty calories to make it to a lunch that is deficient in the nutrients that will grow a healthy mind and keep them sharp throughout the afternoon. Many parents complain that they cannot get their children to eat a healthy balanced diet. Children copy what they see, so a healthy food initiative may be the order of the day for the whole family. With a little meal planning, smart food choices can be made.
Try these three tips to improve your 2013-14 school year, and remember that balance in all things is important for optimal success. Have a great school year!