When most people think of making resolutions, they probably associate them with the Times Square ball drop and shouts of "Happy New Year" at the stroke of midnight. However, for kids across the country, a different kind of "New Year" is underway -- a new school year. As we dust off the backpacks and notebooks, it’s time for parents to be the best Chief Education Officers (CEO) that they can be and set an actionable plan into motion for academic success.
Parents shouldn’t wait until January 1st to make the resolutions that can significantly impact their children’s education.
Get into a routine. Gone are the lazy days of sleeping in and lounging by the pool. Back to school also signifies back to a routine; and a little structure can go a long way. Create a daily school schedule with bedtimes and wakeup times, when to leave the house to catch the bus, time for after-school activities, time for homework and so on. Buy a large calendar and have your kids map out their days. Celebrate sticking to your weekly routine with a trip to the movies or other fun activity on the weekends.
Get organized. Getting organized now can save stress later. You can start by stocking up on all of the school supplies that kids might need like notebooks, rulers, pens, pencils and calculators and be sure to get extras to use later in the year. Most schools will send a supply list to the local stores. Kids can get involved by checking off items as they go into the cart. By creating a filing system at home, you and your kids can work together to make sure no important forms and papers get lost in the day-to-day shuffle.
Set goals. Sit down with your son or daughter and talk about goals. As you and your child make his or her list of goals, be specific. For instance, perhaps your third grader wants to master multiplication or your teen is hoping to have a 3.5 GPA this year. Break down that goal into manageable chunks and have regular check-ins. Keep in mind that achieving goals isn’t always easy --maybe your son or daughter didn’t get a good grade on an important test but all is not lost. Have a discussion about how best to course correct and stay on track to achieving that goal.
Celebrate victories big and small. Most families celebrate a good report card or graduating to a new grade, but it’s equally important to recognize the little victories as well. Getting a good grade on an exam can lay the foundation to getting that A on the final report card. Celebrate by having a kids’ choice family night or going on a special outing like a trip to the museum. Parents can establish a cumulative rewards system. For example, every homework assignment completed with a grade B or higher earns the child a sticker and when he or she has 10 stickers, it’s time for a trip to the bookstore.
Get involved. This resolution is important for both kids and parents alike. Parents can join the local PTA or PTO to be informed about school events and various ways to get involved or volunteer to chaperone field trips. Extracurricular activities are important for kids to develop their interests and connect with like-minded peers.
Don’t be afraid to get help. It’s all too easy for one bad grade to snowball into a larger issue. If you’re concerned with your child’s performance, meet with his or her teacher to discuss how best to get your student back on track. If a consistent issue arises, it may be time to look into tutoring options.
Make this school year the best yet by making (and sticking to) your family’s back to school resolutions.
Mark B. Kance, M.A.T. is the Executive Director at the Hamilton Township Sylvan Learning in Hamilton New Jersey. Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of tutoring to students of all ages, grades and skill levels with more than 30 years of experience and nearly 800 centers located throughout North America. Sylvan's trained and Sylvan-certified instructors provide personalized instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, study skills and test-prep for college entrance and state exams. Sylvan also hosts MomMinded.com, a blog offering tips and resources from moms and education experts. For more information, call 1-800-31-SUCCESS or visit www.SylvanLearning.com.