We tend not to think about it that way, but starting elementary school is a huge transition for children. They go from a nursing environment to a place where the expectations are higher. At the same time, they are introduced to new rules, rules that were not there before.
This is actually a good thing, but it also comes with its own challenges. At that age, the parent must take on – or ideally, continue – a role that both challenges and supports the child. They can then learn the important rules, but still, have a guiding and supportive presence in their lives. It is important to not be overprotective and look at your child objectively. If they have an area of weakness, we must acknowledge it and start to work on it. It is never too early to be proactive. There are various ways you can help your child succeed in elementary school, and we will look at five methods that should be implementable for most parents.
- Prepare for Parent-Teacher Conferences: Being there at the parent-teacher conferences is very important, and really should be the bare minimum as far as interaction with the teaching staff goes. By getting to know parents, your child’s teacher can have a better picture of your child. They can find out what’s going on in the home, and how to work together to overcome certain obstacles. This can be a bitter pill to swallow at times, but it is important to understand that the teacher wants the best for the child. If you prepare for these events, you can ask better questions, and accomplish more during the parent-teacher meeting.
- Support Educational Expectations: Homework helps kids learn and practice important skills, and it is a good way to evaluate your child’s current abilities. Homework helps them understand that they have responsibilities. They also learn that taking care of these responsibilities can benefit them in their lives. The best teachers manage to make their students understand that learning can help them in many ways. Sometimes children need to be reminded of things they already know. It is your responsibility to create a home environment with a positive learning culture, keeping, distractions to a minimum.
- Nutrition: Education in nutrition should be mandatory at all elementary schools nationwide. Our eating habits determine many aspects of our lives, and it all starts at a young age. A growing body needs quality nutrition, and it is the responsibility of the parent to provide that. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford that, but if you have the means, it should be one of your top priorities. A child who eats a nourishing breakfast can do better at school, and they have more energy throughout the day.
- Improve Their Organizational Skills: Being organized can help you in a number of ways, regardless of your age. Well-organized people feel less overwhelmed, and they are usually more successful at keeping deadlines. The same applies to children. Obviously, being organized in elementary school means something entirely different than being organized in a professional job, but this is still a skill that cannot be taught too early. Those children who keep their assignment book updated, and maybe even have a separate folder for their homework, usually do much better in school. Organizational skills may not be essential at that age, but if kids develop good habits, it will almost certainly help them later in their life, when they really need to be organized.
- Make Sure They Are There: This may sound like an obvious thing, but to do well at school, your kid actually has to be there. As a parent, you have to take attendance very seriously. When your child feels overwhelmed, and doesn’t want to go to school, you may allow her/him a day off once in a while. It is, however, important to make them understand why you’ve allowed it. Ideally, you only allow them to recharge their batteries, and help them to realize that it is okay to take a day off, if absolutely necessary. Help them to prepare for the next day. If they understand that they cannot ignore problems, they become better prepared for both school and life in general.
You can try many things as a parent, but it all boils down to one thing, being actively present in their lives. When you truly participate without being overprotective, your child feels that presence and enthusiasm, and will match it.