Today marks the official start to the academic school year, and while all of us (teachers, parents and students) may feel differently about returning to Nobles after such a wonderfully long break, I know we all have one thing in common—the desire to achieve academic success. Trust me, your kids want to be successful as much as we want it for them.
The path to success can be a murky one for some students and their parents, so I thought this was an opportune time to share a few tips with you that will hopefully help to ensure a successful start to the 2012/2013 school year.
- Establish the rules early. Set aside some time this week to make sure your child knows what your expectations are around homework and study time. Some important topics to cover are the start and end time for homework and studying (this includes bedtime), use of the cell phone or listening to music while studying and what about the nights when there is no assigned homework? Start as you mean to go. That is, set up the rules and stick to them.
- Maintain that first day/first week level of organization. Everyone is organized at the beginning of a project or job, but it’s really hard to maintain it. In most cases, it doesn’t matter all that much, but for students at Nobles, it’s a key to their success. Sunday afternoons are a good time to set aside fifteen to thirty minutes to do a quick organization and planning session. The whole family can take part in it. For students, they can file papers into binders, recycle unnecessary papers, look ahead at syllabi and schedules, and email teachers to set up meetings during the upcoming week.
- Rethink the homework space. For years, I told families they needed a dedicated, clutter-free space for their child to use for studying and homework. However, recent research tells us that it’s better for kids to study material in different locations. It’s more likely for him or her to remember something they’ve learned if they reviewed it in more than one location. It’s still important to have a place to spread out and work, but it’s also important to get up and take that study guide somewhere else to review it.
- Know how much to help. Helping is not doing. It is perfectly fine to make a suggestion about word choice, but not write or rewrite a paragraph. Working through one math problem with your child is reasonable, but doing the whole sheet is not. This really is not a gray area. If you think you are doing too much, you probably are. As well, encourage your child to communicate with teachers when there is a problem and resist the urge to send the email on their behalf. Advocating for themselves in this small way will help them in the end.
- Be realistic. If last year was a tough one academically for your child, don’t talk about shooting for straight As this year. Instead, help your child to set reasonable academic goals. Also, recognize that grades are not the only part of a positive school experience.