Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Starting Off the Year Stress Free

For many students, starting the year means new teachers, schedules, and new friends. In order to minimize your family’s stress level throughout the year, here are a few suggestions for you and your elementary and/or junior high school kids:

1. Get back in the routine. Have you eased back to the structure of the school nights by reestablishing reading and homework routines, mealtimes, and appropriate bedtimes with your kids?

2. Set educational goals NOW at the beginning of the year. Whether your student(s) is striving for an A, handing in homework on time, or preparing for a test – setting goals can help set the routine for the new school year.

3. Develop a relationship with your child’s teacher or teachers. Take the time to develop a relationship with your child’s teacher(s). They are the best source for information about scholastic and/or behavioral matters and can recommend ways to help your child resolve any difficulties he or she is having.

4. Create a homework routine and place. Choose and agree on a time and place that is free of distractions. Have tools such as dictionaries, calculators, erasers and extra paper available. A place without TV, computer or electronic devices can limit distractions.

5. Stay on schedule. Insure your student uses his/her planner to record assignments and due dates on a daily basis. Students new to junior high may need extra support in keeping track of multiple subjects, homework, teachers, classrooms and books. Planning ahead and developing a workable study schedule is a worthwhile skill that can be used now and later on high school or even college. Good organization limits late nights completing homework assignments or cramming for tests. This can greatly reduce your student’s anxiety about school.

6. What can you do to encourage learning on vacation breaks or at home? One way is to involve your student in real, authentic experiences that will use and reinforce reading, writing, and math skills taught in school. For example, if your family is thinking about possible family day trips—your older kids could use a map, plan the miles, estimate the costs of gas, food expenses and even possible fun activities.

Another idea is to ask your older child or teen to compare and contrast information before purchasing an item and to write why a particular item is better.

Lastly, following directions on a How-To project with you can also help kids develop critical thinking skills while also having interaction and fun at home.

7. Do you have any ideas you could share with others at our school? Let me know.