Once your kids hit elementary school, things get a little bit crazy.
All of a sudden, your kids actually need to be at school on time.
All of a sudden, you’re buried under a mountain of papers, fliers, and notices.
All of a sudden, your kids have real homework.
All of a sudden, your kids get to buy lunch and play instruments.
All of a sudden, you feel overwhelmed and inundated with kid projects and activities.
In the blink of an eye, your little, innocent preschoolers are replaced by these big kids who have tests and assignments. And it’s nuts.
So what we do now–as parents of elementary schoolers–really, truly makes a big difference in our kids’ long-term success in school.
It’s about setting up habits and routines that matter. If we want to raise strong students, we must start now.
And believe me, I know it’s not always easy. Believe me. We are late nearly every single day, and we live a stone’s throw from the school.
But we’re working on it, and we’re trying.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- Raising Strong Students–Study Habits for Smart Kids:
I’ve talked long and hard about how important it is for parents to do what they can to help build a solid foundation for learning for our kids–playing games with ABCs, talking about numbers, teaching the basics–so that they start their formal education on solid ground.
And I still stand by that for sure.
But it’s only half the battle.
The other half of the battle is all about establishing routines. In order to raise strong students, we have to establish study habits for our smart kids. Early.
If you have no study habits to speak of at this point, don’t worry. Do. Not. Worry. Start tomorrow. Or start this Monday.
Here’s what has to happen: Kids do their jobs. Then you do your job. Pause. Then you both do your job again.
Bam. In more detail:
1. Kids do their jobs. It’s their job to put their backpacks, coats, and shoes in the same place every single day.
And they should put their folders or assignment books and lunch boxes in the same place every single day.
2. Parents do their jobs. Your job is to look at their school folders and go through their papers.
Sign or fill out important forms and file everything that your kids do not need in a special folder for each child. Empty the folder every month, keeping things you want to save and recycling everything else.
Pause. Kids relax for 15 or 20 minutes. They have a snack.
They wash hands, put on their play clothes or soccer uniform or dance outfit–whatever they’ll need for an after school activity later.
They chill out while you get your work finished.
3. Jobs again. Kids’ biggie job is homework. Your job–especially when kids are younger–is to make sure it’s completed in a satisfactory manner.
Sometime in the first hour that kids get home–after they’ve had a snack and have chatted with you about their day, played with the dog or did their quick chore–kids must finish homework in a quiet, distraction-free spot in the house. That way, it’s over. They don’t have to worry about it and can instead relax for the rest of the evening.
That’s it. But parents must play an active role in establishing this routine. Really, they must.
Some helpful hints to make it work?
- Keep homework in the same place every day. Make it as distraction-free as possible.
- Keep necessary supplies close at hand: paper, pencils, stapler, tape, crayons.
- Keep kids responsible. Ask them to write down tests on a family calendar and post it so everyone can see. Kids put their work in folders when finished and pack backpacks for the next day.
- Keep reminding kids that right now, school is their job and they want to do it well.
- Keep reminding kids how much everyone appreciates their teacher’s hard work.
- Keep it positive.
- Keep it upbeat.
- Keep consistent with the routine.
- Keep it real. Some days, you need to stray from the routine. But get right back on it asap.
This is not easy, and I’ll be the first to admit that even though we run a pretty tight routine over here, I choose my battles.
My kids’ socks never match. We’re the family running to school as the bell is ringing. I don’t always put sunscreen on their little faces for recess, and I often pack double desserts in their lunches but forget to include a drink.
They do forget library books and homework and sometimes wear flip-flops on days they have P.E.
And some days, even if I see that forgotten homework or book on the table, I physically cannot bring it to school because I have work and meetings and calls myself. So it’s all a learning process. Believe me.
Bottom line is this: what we do now really counts. Because though we think we’re in the big game now, once our kids get to high school and college, then they’re in the big leagues. And if they have long-established study habits–study skills that work for them–then they’re more likely to be successful in the major leagues and later on in life.
We got this. But parents, wee have to be in the game–every day.
What works for you? For your kids? For your family? How do you raise strong students with solid study habits?
I’d love to know!
Want a little more info? NEA, National Education Association, has it covered. Visit nea.org/parents for more info on raising strong students.
fyi: This post reflects a collaboration with the National Education Association’s Raise Your Hand for Student Success campaign. All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.