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Teacher Tips For School Success


Q. What do veteran teachers say are the best things parents can do for kids to ensure a successful school year?


  • Have an organized family routine, with consistent bedtimes (most kids really do need nine or 10 hours of sleep per night!), wake-up times, homework times, and daily chores to build responsibility.


  • Talk with your child a lot; ask questions; be funny; be "safe" to bring concerns to; give comfort and ask about feelings; a lot of interaction with Mom and Dad at home builds brainpower and self-esteem better than anything school can do, by far.


  • Limit junk food and pop, make sure your child eats a nutritious breakfast, and stock healthy after-school snacks.


  • Send a sack lunch with milk money to ensure your child eats a healthy lunch.


  • Set up a study area with no distractions. It doesn't have to be big, but it does require good lighting, space to write, and probably shouldn't include any music or other multitasking capabilities. Teach a child to concentrate and the brain "muscle" will get stronger.


  • Meet the teacher early in the school year and establish a good relationship. Urge the teacher to call you or email you at any time with any concerns. Send a couple of notes of encouragement to the teacher through the school year, and try for 100% attendance at important school events, such as open houses, parent-teacher conferences, and concerts. You "vote with your feet," and teachers appreciate it.


  • If you can arrange to pick up your child after school, that's the best time to find out what's really going on; although the days of the "stay-at-home mom" are numbered, it's smart to try to schedule this.


  • Read to or with your children every day for 20 to 30 minutes, from infancy through sixth grade. A lot of parents think that's over once the child is reading pretty well on his or her own. But that's a big mistake; children's oral vocabularies should be a few years ahead of their reading vocabularies in order to stretch them upward. So they need to listen to text read aloud which is a little more difficult than what they can read on their own. Plus, the "snuggle time" is priceless at any age!


  • Limit "plugged-in time" to an hour a day of TV, video games, Instant Messenger and other electronic amusements. Otherwise, they'll be passive learners and easily distracted.


  • Limit extracurricular activities to two per week: perhaps one sport and one "civilizing" activity such as music lessons, or a service activity such as scouts.


  • Spiritual education is priceless for character development; the kids who behave the best usually go to Sunday School or receive other religious training.


  • Be on time, with homework completed.


  • Let homework be your child's domain - never do it FOR him or her - as long as there are no problems. But if it's not getting done, or grades are low, enforce homework rules. Work out a temporary system in which you initial the assignment notebook and communicate with the teacher until assignments are being turned in on a regular basis.


Homework: Find good advice from this "school success guide" in several categories on:


By Susan Darst Williams Coaching Your Child 02 2008


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