The start of each school year is an excellent time to set into place good habits that can lead to a success in the classroom and self-confidence for students. Take the time to write down steps for students — no matter their age — to help guide them as they return to school. Review them as needed. For the younger children, make the steps visible each day. Add picture reminders for students who are not reading yet.
Set up a schedule
Plan a schedule out with your student for each day to include a morning routine, homework time and bedtime. Don’t forget family time, athletics practices, fine arts rehearsals and just time to play, relax or read.
Make homework a priority
Students today live busy lives, but parents can emphasize the importance of school by setting an expectation for homework and study time. When possible, set homework time earlier in the evening, rather than after practices when students may be tired. Though schedules may vary (swim practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, piano lesson on Wednesday), attempt to keep as much of a routine as possible. One hint: Be certain students get a snack or dinner before homework to keep the “hunger grumbles” at a minimum.
Turn off the electronics
As tempting as it may be for students — especially older ones — to have the television on while doing homework, it’s best for them to focus on the task at hand. Set a “no electronics” time during homework and family dinner when you can. Determine a set length for “no electronics” (15 minutes for younger students and up to an hour or more for older ones). With that in place, students won’t rush to get homework done and can then use any “extra” time for leisurely reading or talking to parents. Create a spot where students can do homework each night away from anyone else that may be watching television or using a computer.
Set a bedtime and stick to it
This can be a tough one, especially after summer. “Practice” the school-year bedtime about a week before classes begin to get students in to the routine. Make sure all nighttime routines — teeth brushing, showers, packing lunches and backpacks — are completed before bedtime. Give yourself and your students plenty of time for any distractions so bedtime is still met.
Parents, be certain you help your child with homework when they need it, but make sure they do the work. It’s important to also check the work before it gets put into the backpack to be turned into the teacher. This assures you know how your student is doing and whether or not intervention is needed. Don’t forget to praise your student for a job well done!
By creating good habits early in the school year, students will know the expectations for the months to come. They may even find they have extra free time when they stick to their goals. Reward them for that when you can with family game nights, an extra trip to the library or a child-favorite activity.
We are excited to welcome all students back to class and wish families the best in the upcoming school year!
• Sheryl Rednor is the director of curriculum and instruction for the Higley Unified School District.