As parents, we want our kids to be successful both academically and socially. It can be hard to know when to step in and when to let them struggle a little. Where is the line between helicopter parenting and being absent? How do you decide how to best advocate for your child at school or let them learn the lessons of responsibility?
Here are some ways to clear up that fuzzy, grey area and help you best help your child be successful this school year.
Develop a partnership with your child’s teachers and school staff.
- Meet the teacher and let him or her know if you have any concerns about your child as the school year is just beginning. Most teachers appreciate knowing how your child learns best or if there are any special situations they should be aware of.
- Get to know the other school staff. There are a lot of people like administrators, counselors, secretaries and librarians who can be a resource to your family.
- Attend parent-teacher conferences and listen with an open mind to how your child is doing at school – both academically and socially. Your child’s teacher spends a lot of time with your child and probably sees a different side than you do at home.
- Be a volunteer or show up for class parties! Plan to be a parent chaperone for field trips or sign up to be the “secret reader”. There are a lot of ways to get involved – ask the teacher if you’re not sure what help is needed.
Support your child academically.
- Help your child develop a routine for getting reading and homework done each night – without a fight. You might ask your child if they want a snack before starting homework or if they need to play outside some before settling down to read.
- Don’t bail them out every time they forget their homework or fail to study for a test – sometimes kids need to experience minor setbacks in order to prepare for long-term success! Learning consequences of small failures now helps them become more responsible and avoid larger consequences later.
- Advocate for your child when you need to. If your child is genuinely struggling with a concept or skill – let your child’s teacher know.
- Know your child’s rights if you think they need special services and don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance from the school staff.
Support your child’s learning at home.
- Demonstrate a positive attitude towards learning and school personnel. Let your child see you reading for fun and for ongoing development!
- Eat dinner as a family and talk about the best part of their day, or the funniest thing that happened. If there’s something that wasn’t great – give them an opportunity to talk about that too.
- Encourage creative and unstructured play into each day. While it might seem counterintuitive, kids need lots of downtime to facilitate learning.
- Make sure your kids stick to a healthy bedtime. Growing minds and bodies need rest!
- Send them to school with a healthy breakfast and a positive attitude. Limit sugary breakfasts that will leave them hungry before lunchtime – try some whole grains and protein to help them last through the morning. Mornings can be hectic – but take a minute to share a quick hug or a silly joke before sending your child out the door.