5 Things To Do At Home To Help Your Child Excel At School - Shoes to Shiraz

It's Wednesday! So that means it's time for another wonderful blogger to take over my page for the day, and I am SO excited to have Deena from  Shoes to Shiraz (don't you love her blog name?!) Deena is a a the master puppeteer of a busy life.  When not raising her 2 kids, feeding her husband or teaching high school french, she enjoys doing anything creative that keeps her inspired!

One of the biggest stresses I have encountered in this crazy journey we call parenthood is definitely introducing my children to the world of school.  I had so many concerns and questions and well, it is just so hard to deal with the unknowns, isn't it?  You can read the post I wrote 3 years ago on the eve of my son's entry into the kingdom of learning here.

I have spent 12+ years in a classroom as a French Immersion teacher, covering grades 5 to 12 and so many different subjects that I'm afraid to list them.  As a teacher, I have come to learn that the role parents play in their child's education is paramount.  

I'm happy to share with you today some of my observations.  I should add that I did consult with some of my esteemed colleagues who teach in different subject areas, just to see if there was a variation in parenting styles.  For the record, there wasn't.

The biggest question that comes to mind for me, as a parent is:  what can I do to help my children be successful in school?

Make your child's education the priority, which sometimes means making sacrifices. Ask specific questions about their day and show interest in their answers.  Be aware of their assignments and assessments used by the teachers.  Ask to see some of your child's work and get them to explain the process they used to create/write/solve it.   I think that can apply from a kindergartner to a high schooler and living in both ends of the spectrum, I can appreciate that.  As a parent of a doll in kindergarten, I make sure I understand what the expectations are in the classroom, and if I don't, I ask the teacher.  But also, as a teacher of grade 12s, I welcome the emails from parents requesting a little more information when they are uncertain if their kid is being factual or not.

Lead by example.  Read books out loud with them or beside them silently as they read.  If they are sitting down to do their homework, sit down with them and work on something.  Show them that hard work pays off. Schedule time in your day for homework, let it become a routine.  Make sure kids do their own work, as tempting as it may be to solve that equation for them....instead guide them to discover the answers themselves and you know what, it's okay if they fail too.  They can learn valuable lessons when they are challenged.

Kids need to know you believe that they are capable.  Push them to work hard and if they are struggling, seek help. Support them in their success and failures.  Kids can frustrate easily and give up, and that's when they need strong parents behind them the most, encouraging and supporting them. The most successful students that I have ever taught were the immersion/band students.  Learn a musical instrument or a second language (and learn it with them!)  Get them to push their limits, it will teach them discipline and responsibility.

This especially applies to the younger kids.  There are so many ways you can enrich what they're learning at school.  Lucia is just learning to read, so we're constantly getting her to sound out words and practice her sounds- in both languages.  When we play Monopoly, we practice counting in French every time she rolls the dice.  As for Willis, who is in grade 3, we pay attention to his interests and then when he's really into something, it becomes a link to what he is learning in school.  For example, they are currently perfecting their cursive writing, so at home, I linked that to his current obsession with Digimon (ugh, sigh).  He has made many posters of these ....Digimon... applying cursive writing in the descriptions of these animals? Their powers? I should really have him do a descriptive paragraph so at least I can understand what they are.  Or now that his class is starting fractions, Willis has been doing A LOT of baking at home. The cookies are an added bonus.

Kids don't need computers all the time and there are so many more ways to keep them entertained, while learning.  Monitor internet/video games and TV usage. Also? check their browser history (learned that the hard way) you may find something entertaining in the least.  I know there are many neat learning games, technologically speaking and yes, use those, but don't forget to give their eyes a break.  Don't forget that tons of learning happens when kids are placed in situations of interaction, like in the good ol' days when we played outside.  For hours.  Go outside, play a sport, read books, do puzzles and mazes, or play board games or cards instead.  There is so much value in what their imaginations can do, and sadly that is (somewhat) restricted when they are plugged in.

These may seem daunting and I know they are quite subjective as every kid learns differently. Regardless if your child is an honour roll student or one struggling to find his or her way, celebrate their success and show them the worth they have.  

Because really, in the end, the successful kids are the ones who value themselves and learn to strive to be the best they can be.