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Tips for a Successful School Year

1182266_studentsWhere did the summer go?  It’s hard to believe that in many counties, school starts next week!  I wanted to share a few things that will help make this school year successful for your family.  It’s no surprise that success — or failure — at school starts at home. Studies have linked poor academic performance to factors such as a lack of sleep, poor nutrition, obesity, and a lack of parental support.

The good news is that those same studies also show higher test scores for students who live in homes with healthy habits, regular routines, and good communication. What does this mean?  Let’s brainstorm on ways you can ensure your child heads off to school this fall with the best possible foundation.

Organization is definitely a key factor to help your child. A student agenda notebook or planner is a great tool, or if they are able to use electronic devices have them use a planning program/calendar. Encourage them to review their assignments before leaving school to make sure they bring home the appropriate books and materials.

At home, remind them to look at the planner instead of trying to work from memory. Establish a place where your child can study daily and do their homework. Be sure it is free from distractions and have school supplies easily accessible. Make it your children’s responsibility to let you know when they run low on supplies. As much as possible, be available during this time in case your child needs help. Assist your child on making a list of all the things going on weekly and break down big assignments into smaller chunks they can do daily.

Have family meetings to be sure everyone knows what is happening for the week. My family usually meets on Sundays. It is a time when we work out transportation, meal plans, extracurricular activities and homework times.

Look for ways to teach your child throughout the day. For example, cooking combines elements of math and science. Use the time when you make dinner as an opportunity to read and follow directions, to discuss fractions, to make hypotheses and to examine results.

Choosing to make schoolwork a priority over socializing with friends is one of the biggest challenges facing school children. Institute a work first/play later policy. With “work first/play later,” kids are expected to get all of their work done before visiting friends, chatting online or playing games. Explain that there will be consequences if this policy isn’t met, and be prepared to follow through. Offer praise for a job well done. Though they may not act like your approval matters, it is still very important and it does motivate them. All children need down time, and playing both alone and with other children is good for both their intellectual and social skills. Eventually a well-developed work ethic will result in a big pay-off. Celebrate their successes. A family dinner out to celebrate a solid mid-year report can boost their spirits and encourage them to keep putting in the effort.

Model good learning behavior in the way you deal with your job and household responsibilities and let your children know that you are still learning. Be sure that you show your child – through your own action – that good educational habits yield great rewards.

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For more information go to http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topics/families/children.html or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.