There are some steps you can take to help your child look forward to school each day, rather than loathe the mere thought of it.
By Amanda Formaro
“I hate school!”
No parent wants to hear their third daughter yell out these words on a regular basis. Your first grader conveniently forgets to bring home his homework every day of the week. Your 10 year old daughter complains every morning that she is too tired to go to school.
These are all very real roadblocks that parents just like you encounter on a daily basis. There are some steps you can take to help your child look forward to school each day, rather than loathe the mere thought of it.
Check With The School
Talk to your child’s teacher. Are there behavior issues you are not aware of? Is your child picked on my other students? Does she act out as class clown? Get involved, set up a meeting with your child’s teacher, the Principal and guidance counselor. Discuss the problems you are having at home and find out what is happening at school.
Talk to your child. Ask him if he learned anything new today. Ask about his friends and about the activities on the playground and at recess. If your child rides the bus, ask where he sits and why. Try to nonchalantly get the inside scoop.
Volunteer if you are able. Your presence alone can sometimes make a world of difference to your child. If you are too much of a distraction by working in the classroom, then ask if there are ways for you to help in the office or in other areas. Just knowing you are there can make a big difference.
Volunteer at home. Yes, you too can do homework and send a positive message to your child through your volunteer efforts. There are many projects that need to be done for the school that can be accomplished in your home. Work on these projects after your child arrives home and do your “homework” together.
It can be extremely trying when a child refuses to cooperate. Try to keep a positive attitude. Remember who is the grown up and set a good example.
Focus on the things your child did right. If her homework is sloppy, don’t criticize the handwriting, instead commend her for completing it. If her clothes don’t match, tell her how proud you are of her for getting ready for school on time, rather than criticizing her fashion blunder.
Listen to yourself. Are you constantly barking out commands and orders? Do you compliment your child when he is playing nicely with his siblings? This is such a hard thing to overlook, try to make a point to compliment your child at least three times a day.
Check with the teacher to see if there is something your child can do each day that would encourage her to look forward to school. There may be a specific job that is available that would make your child feel more important and encourage him to want to go to school. Does his class have a pet mouse or fish? Maybe he can be in charge of feeding and watering it each day.
If your child seems to be struggling with her homework and doesn’t seem to “get it”, help break it down into simpler terms.
Use visuals to help demonstrate how an equation works. For example, if she needs to add 3 + 3 + 5, find the designated number of objects and line them up on the table. Use 3 oranges, 3 apples and 5 cans of soup. Ask how many items there are on the table. Then ask how many oranges, how many apples and how many cans of soup.
If it’s reading your child is struggling with, help break larger words down into smaller words. If he is unable to read the word “boysenberries”, place your finger over the letters “senberries” and ask your child to read “boy”. Then cover “boy” and “berries” and so on.
If you feel your child’s frustrations may stem from a learning disability, talk to the school about observation. Most schools have either an in-house psychologist or one that visits the school regularly. Ask to have your child observed while in class. Set up a time to discuss the results with your child’s teacher.
Should the results indicate a possible learning disability, be sure to consult your pediatrician for any medical or professional advice. Testing of ADD, ADHD and Dyslexia are now readily available to parents and educators.
Listen & Act
Listen to your children. If you here things such as “Who needs to learn biology anyway?” that may actually mean “This stuff is way over my head.” If they say they “don’t get it”, don’t insist that they do. Find out what the problem is and try to help. The elementary years of your child’s education are vital to the way he will view school in the future. If you are involved and show that you care and are not just there to criticize, your child will stand up and notice.