After Parent-Teacher Conferences...There's More?!
Developing good organizational skills and time management skills are important lessons that we try to teach. Frankly, (Sorry Mrs. Galton) , I remember nothing from 5th grade Social Studies from when I was in 5th grade. What I hope students will take with them are the skills they need to excel, (but a smattering of knowledge wouldn’t hurt). At 10 years old, how to learn can be more important than what they learn. (I will still give tests).
1.Use the planner.
All of our students have a planner. Encourage their use. If students write assignments in their planner, there is little chance they can truly “forget”. Try writing a quick “hello” to your child’s teacher in the planner! Children hate this. It strikes terror into the hearts of most 10 year olds to think their parents and teachers communicate. Once they get over the initial shock, acceptance will set in. Don’t expect teachers to reply back every time, the important part is in making sure the student shows the planner to both parent and teacher. This alone will improve planner use and organization.
Encourage your child to manage their tasks. Some tasks are easier than other tasks. Some aren’t expected to be finished in one night. Help your child see the benefits of managing their time wisely.
3.Give your child a study space.
This does not have to be isolated from everything else in the world, but it will help if provides refuge from little sisters. Limit distractions, and have it stocked with supplies. Pens, pencils, and paper are required.
4.Set a designated study time.
You should have a set time for homework/study, or just reading every day. This certainly does not have to be right after school. As the days get short, there is precious light left for hockey and football. (Do kids still play these games without a PS2?) Your child should know that a certain time every day is reserved for studying and doing homework. Set these expectations. This time can even be used for reading that next book report book, or looking over vocabulary. It certainly does not have to be a regimented time, and some days are just busy days, but remember, these tips are to help students be better organized, and make better use of time. A good dose of common sense goes a long way.
5.Facilitate. Don’t give answers, help them learn.
”I need help!” the cry goes out. “No”, I reply gently. “You want help.” This is how I seem to start every year. Students learn to rely on parents or teachers to supply answers when they say those magic words. It is easier to tell students what they want to know rather than to teach them how to get the information themselves. Simply tell your child that you understand the question may be difficult, and if they can’t figure out the answer in 15 minutes you will help. Remain calm. Tears may well up. These are perfectly natural and will clean out the tear ducts. Frustration can set in easily, but it can be overcome through practicing self-reliance. Yes, I still practice this skill myself. It is so much easier for me to research a topic, and tell my own kids what they need to know. Frankly, I do it faster, and better. BUT I want them to do it faster and better than me eventually. That means I have to show restraint. I will still do the research, and brush up on the subjects they are learning, but only so I can discuss it with them, maybe clarify parts of a novel, or a period in history. Our kids need to learn how to learn. None of this counts for Calculus. I want no part of Calculus any more. I’m too old for that. Sometimes the best answer is still “Go ask your teacher.”
6.Conduct a weekly clean-up.
Clean up folders every week. Mrs. Schaus likes this one best. Please do not clean folders for your children, there is nothing worse than the kids blaming mom for throwing out the paper they need for class. Again, a gentle reminder is best. Better yet, ask them if they can do it in school on Thursday or Friday! Most will have time during BOCH, or be able to find 5 minutes somewhere in the day. This way, if there is a question they can ask a teacher if they still need to keep something.
7.Create a daily schedule.
Well, try anyway. With how busy families are it may seem impossible, but try to establish regular dinner times and bed times. I was never a stickler for bed times, as I saw this as another way to teach kids self-discipline. Too tired when you get up? Awwww, I feel bad, but off to school anyway! Realistically, you may have to step in and set limits. No student should be up at midnight on the computer the night before school. Period. We do want children well rested, and children do well when they have a pattern or schedule they can follow.
8.Keep a calendar.
This will help family members keep track of each other's activities and avoid scheduling conflicts. I had to go this route when the kids had different concert schedules and soccer games and practices all over. Let the kids put items on the calendar. If they have an ice-cream social they want to attend, have them put it on the calendar, (and let you know, of course!) Dates for big exams or due dates for book reports can also go on.
9.Prepare for the next morning.
Pack the schoolbag before bed, and have all homework and folders ready to go. You might even want to have your child get their clothes ready. This will also give them an opportunity to think about what is going on the next day! Gym clothes needed? Are we swimming? Picture day!? Getting ready without the time pressure of the morning will relieve stress. My wonderful little girl could give her mom plenty of stress just picking out the clothes. (of course she was very young then). Let the kids have a voice in what they wear, (within reason of course, you’re still the parents).
10. Provide support and encouragement. Help your child learn these skills! Give gentle reminders, don’t nag. Remember, we are trying to give them the gift of self-reliance and the skills to organize themselves. Let them do as much as possible, and set a good example.