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Back to School Success

Taken From:
Saanich News September 03, 2006,

Paul Beckow M.Sc. R.P.C.
Individual couple and Family Counsellor

Dear Paul,

Summer is over and our two children return to elementary school. Everyone seems excited. As a parent, what could I do right now to support my kids’ success at school?

Back to School

Dear Back to School,

There are fundamental needs all children share that are the foundation for success at school and life.

Every child needs good nutrition, consistent, secure routines, plenty of sleep, and lots of basic care. Every child requires a sense of personal safety and freedom from excessive anxiety or fear. Every child needs emotional security with it’s sense of belonging and self worth.

When these basic developmental needs are met, children are free to play, to learn, to socialize and actualize themselves with the opportunities before them.

My point is - don’t underestimate the difference you already make. All those things you are doing in your family to secure your child already contribute powerfully to their readiness for school. Keep doing them.

Since you asked for some tips, here are a few additional things you can do that will support school success.

1. Communicate to your children, however you can, and in as many ways as you can, the value of school.

Our own attitude towards school is everything. Do we value school, the opportunity that school is, and do we communicate this to our children?

School is their arena to play and learn and grow. School is where they learn about themselves and others, discover what it means to be part of a community and to share and contribute to others. School is a place where they learn amazing things about their world and acquire so many exciting, new, and important skills.

Our own enthusiasm for school makes a big difference.

Then, from this sense of value for school, help your children understand that school is their job. School is their personal responsibility.

“Just as mommy and daddy have jobs, school is your job. Your job in school is to do your very best and to learn all you can.”

Communicate, however you can, that their learning and success in school is a special opportunity for them, and the pathway to their future.

2. Establish routines at home that support school and become habits.

You assist your child when you introduce, and maintain, structure and routines in your home that support their school responsibilities.

Set up a quiet homework time after dinner. Start with a short fifteen minutes, a routine that regularly happens “before the television goes on or computer games begin.” Put on the timer. Make this time free of conflict.

Locate, with your child, the place they can do school work. Make this area comfortable. Have a place in your home where their school books, back-pack and materials etc. are kept. “This is where we put your teacher’s notes from school”. “Here’s where we’ll post the school work you bring home each week.”

Put up a school calendar so together the family can track school events and assignments and projects – and talk about them. Mark library due dates. Do it with them. This teaches your children, by modelling for them, how to organize themselves and their belongings. Together you are establishing habits which promote success with their various responsibilities at school.

We all know it’s easier to establish these habits and patterns early rather than late. So begin now.

3. Create a sense of partnership with your child’s teacher

It makes a difference to personally know and value your child’s teacher.

Your child’s teacher is an expert on the developmental stages and tasks for children your child’s age. You are an expert on your child. You’re a team, so work together.

Throughout the year, your child’s teacher will have specific learning, and developmental goals for their class and for your child. Find out what these are and what you can do at home to support these.

Your child’s teacher will come to know your son or daughter very well and their observations and insights can support you.

Communicate and share together as you are partners for the year, equally committed and focused on your child’s success.

There you have it. Some tips for your children’s return to school.

Now - can you feel it? - only five more sleeps!

Paul Beckow is a certified individual, marriage, and family therapist. If you have a relationship, personal issue or concern, he can be reached by phoning the Victoria Family Institute at 721 2477 or contacted through his web site at www.paulbeckow.com

For personal or couple counselling, for more information, or to register for a course - please contact Paul Beckow at The Victoria Family Institute.

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