Last week, I addressed the importance of parental management of video viewing on all devices by school-age children. This week, I’m sharing more tips to help parents and students prepare for the new school year and how to be more successful, academically.
Tip 1: Parents, if you have not done so yet, make sure to create a schedule of household chores for everyone in the house. A schedule of chores is very important during the school year. Create a chart for the month to include rooms or areas of the home to be cleaned by each person living in the home. The chart chores are repeated each month. Note that the child’s bedroom should not be on the schedule because the child will make up his or her bed and clean the room each morning.
How can children develop a spirit of cooperation, accountability, reliability and industriousness if parents do not require them to participate in household chores, even during the school year? Parents, do not make the mistake by believing that summer vacation is a break from schoolwork and that during the school year it is a break from household chores. This is wrong. Children are to take part in making sure the environment they are living in is well managed. Neglecting to include children in taking care of the home can develop laziness, irresponsibility and a spirit of entitlement.
Tip 2: Make sure your children have a good breakfast. Far too many children leave home without having a wholesome breakfast. Many parents are too busy or lazy to prepare breakfast. Some parents would give their children money to purchase breakfast. Parents, you can start preparing your children’s breakfast the night before to make it easier if you must rush in the mornings to go to work. Note that your children are a top priority. A good nutritious breakfast is needed for the brain and sets the stage for academic success.
Tip 3: Ensure that your children have a part in preparing school uniforms. Start preparing the school uniforms the night before. This will include washing, ironing, cleaning of shoes, etc. Having children participate in preparation of school uniforms is another way to develop discipline, a spirit of cooperation, and community.
Tip 4: During the school year, ensure that the children complete homework before going to sleep. Do not allow them to trick you by saying they prefer to do it in the morning because these same children will be allowed by the parents to watch television and be on their smartphones for hours before they go to bed. After having a short night of sleep, these same children will rush to complete their homework in the morning before rushing out the door. This is an unhealthy habit to develop.
Tip 5: Ban screens in the mornings. In her article “15 tips on how to get ready for school quickly”, writer Laura Richard writes: “Kids will be able to go out of the door faster if they are free from distractions like trying to finish one more YouTube video or the end of a cartoon show.”
I want to remind parents that the habit of turning on the television or the digital device to start the day before going to school is not good. It is a stimulation that is addictive and distracts from understanding the value of silence, rest, mental preparation, and discipline. Avoid allowing the children to fill every “empty space” with video watching. An exception would be if parents want their children to listen to or watch the morning local news to help them to understand and appreciate the world around them. If this is the case, the time should be limited. If children are ready for school long before the time to leave home, teach them to spend their free time reading, reviewing homework, and preparing for their day in school, or even starting their household chores. The sad truth is that far too many students start the day, as soon as they awake, by clicking the switch to turn on a video device. They also do the same thing as soon as they arrive at home from school. Parents, avoid having your children develop this habit.
Tip 6: Avoid asking this question: “Do you have homework tonight?” Parents should never ask their children if they have homework. One of the best parenting tools is to teach your children that there is always homework, even if the teacher does not give a homework assignment. The standard daily homework assignment is reviewing what was done in class during the day. If there is no homework assigned by the teacher for the day, it should be understood that the child will spend at least 90 minutes reviewing or redoing the day’s schoolwork.
Asking if your child has homework may simply be giving permission for your child to not tell the truth. Furthermore, when the parent accepts that answer and just says “OK,” it is setting up the child for failure. Parents are not to appear disinterested in their children’s school life. When parents are active in the school life of their children, it makes it easier for them to succeed. Parents should have random, unannounced checks of the school bags, assignment books and textbooks. The younger the child, the more frequent the checks should be. Even if the parent has no knowledge or skill in a specific subject, it is imperative that the parent checks on neatness, handwriting, incomplete assignments, etc.
Parents, be smart. It is important to create a learning, disciplined environment for your children. Start now.
• Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to email@example.com, telephone 327-1980 or visit www.soencouragement.org.