Back to school is here. And along with all the excitement and anticipation, there is a little bit of worry. The parents worry about keeping schedules and appointments straight. (I failed this because I scheduled dental checkups on the FIRST day of school. Oops and rescheduling.) And children worry about assignments, friends, ever being free to play again, teachers, and projects. And to manage all this “new” stress, I offer five habits every child needs to be successful in school.
Habit 1: Teach children to read because they like to read.
So much of school involves reading for information – it can almost seem overwhelming – unless children truly enjoy reading for reading’s sake. So, even in the midst of homework, chores, and after school obligations – sit down with the children and read for a few minutes.
Pick a book that would make a fun read aloud, and read to them. They’ll learn that reading offers so much more than information, and they’ll learn that reading is fun and exciting. If children enjoy reading, then even informational reading will be fun and exciting.
Habit 2: Do Homework Each Night
No matter what amount of homework was assigned, do it that same night. Procrastinating until the night before the due date causes nothing but stress in the household and in the child doing the procrastinating.
My third grader struggles with spelling, just like his Mommy. In order to get passable marks on his spelling tests, we had to study those words the first day they came home and throughout the week. On the weeks we didn’t, he didn’t get good marks. But when we did the homework every day, he started making better and better marks on his tests. Or, for that matter, if I had waited until the day before to start working on my bachelor’s thesis – well, let’s just say I wouldn’t have graduated, right? Like the tortoise said, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Habit 3: Get Enough Sleep
I often envy my children’s bedtime of 8 p.m. My bedtime seems to be much later. However, if I let them they would stay up with me while I worked until I finished and went to bed myself.
It’s important for everyone to be well rested each day.There are a lot of decisions to be made, a lot of new information to understand, and a lot of life that needs to be dealt with each day. Getting enough sleep for the body helps everyone cope better with everything that comes up. Also, getting enough sleep helps us all be healthier mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Habit 4: Do Your Best Work, All the Time
There’s no such thing as a throw-away assignment. Every assignment should be given the child’s best effort.
This doesn’t mean that the child receives 100 percent on everything.It just means that the child tries the best he/she possibly can. It means working hard, and taking pride in the outcome. This habit will help children develop good work ethics for later in life, and so it is very important to teach early.
Habit 5: Always Ask Questions
Looking at things and wondering how they work, what they are made of, what they are used for, etc., opens up a world of wonder.My first grader is always asking questions. It’s fantastic to see him desire to learn and understand. Sometimes, though, I wish I had an answer button to go with his questions.
Children naturally have this wonder for a few years. Helping them continue to wonder at life and ask questions will create a love and excitement about learning and school. The whole point of school is really to teach children how to ask questions and how to find those answers – it’s to fuel a desire to continue learning throughout their lives.
These are simple habits, but they offer amazing rewards to the children who master them. As we help our children to always ask questions, do their best work – all the time, get enough sleep, do homework each night, and read because they like to, we are setting them up for success no matter the field of study and career that they take. And, they will be successful in school, and in life.