5 Steps to Help Your Child Quickly Improve In School
November 8, 2019

I recently asked a few of our rising 3rd graders if they were ready to go back to school! They both replied, “Noooooo!” When I asked them to explain why, one replied that he only wanted to go back to school to see his friends and the other made it very clear that he did NOT like school.

These two extremely bright, hardworking students actually shocked me with their responses, but the reality is that most kids enjoy their summer vacation and see it as a time to have fun and just be kids without the worries of homework and tests!

Whether we’re ready or not, summer is quickly winding down and school is just around the corner. For some students, there are only a few weeks left before it’s time to hit the books. Depending on your child’s age and feelings about school, they’ll fit into one of three categories:

1. Super excited to get back! 😀

2. Not bothered either way :/, or

3. (Like the students mentioned above) Absolutely dreading the thought of it. 😮

No matter where your kid fits in, we’ve got a few tips to help you prepare them for a successful start to the school year.

Here’s are some ideas:

1. End of Summer Reflection:

Now is the perfect time to revisit last year’s accomplishments and challenges. Have a discussion with your child about where things went well and not so well, and if summer tutoring wasn’t part of your summer, consider using the next few weeks to ramp up reading and summer math practice a little.

2. Complete Summer Packets:

Though you don’t want to admit it, for some families, the summer packet pretty much goes untouched until the last few weeks of summer– that is, if it’s ever touched at all. Take some time to go through it and create a plan to get it done(or at least, as much as possible).

3. Test Prep:

Are you planning for private school, Catholic high school or college? If so, now would be a good time to get the test prep ball rolling. With life being so busy, many parents fall into the trap of waiting until the last minute to find a tutor and get started. That can be a HUGE mistake, especially if your child needs review of concepts and/or they’re taking the exam for the first time. Please! I repeat, please! Don’t let this be you! This can mean losing out on valuable scholarships, grants and many other opportunities if you’re child fails to score well simply because they weren’t allowed enough time to prepare. SO, if you fall into this category, please reach out today for an assessment and get started!

4. Back to School Sleep Routine:

Let’s face it, even for the most disciplined person, the summer can throw things out of whack. It’s not easy to slip back into a normal routine when you’ve been chillaxin all summer. Even with summer camp, internships and summer jobs, things like vacations and weeks at grandma’s makes the summer routine a bit more tricky to pull out of once school starts. For younger children especially, a shock to their sleeping pattern can make the first few weeks of school tough for YOU and them. It might not be a bad idea to get them back on schedule starting now.

5. Back to School Shopping:

If you haven’t begun already, head to the store and take them along. Involving your child in the process will mentally prepare them for school without them thinking too much of it. After all, (unless your my son) who doesn’t like shopping? In addition to the standard supplies, make sure they pick up a planner and give them some tips on how to use it effectively to keep track of assignments, projects, quizzes and tests. You might also consider adding a journal, to the list or find a planner that has a space for journaling and goal setting…sort of like a 2 in 1.

6. Set Goals for Next Year:

You’d be surprised how many people willy nilly through life without setting goals. If you’re guilty of this, don’t be too hard on yourself. But consider this… If you’re careless about how you spend your time and don’t make a conscious effort to make goal setting a part of your personal routine and that of your child’s, you risk the chance of your child never reaching their full potential. Unfortunately, that’s partly what happens when we fail to set goals.

We rob ourselves of our full potential! So aim to start the school year off with 3 big goals that they choose on their own and make sure they’re effort-focused (ex: reading a certain number of books or leisure reading for 20 minutes daily to improve vocabulary and fluency), not outcome-focused (ex: getting an A in Algebra 2).

Once the school year begins (or even now), you can also encourage the practice of daily goal setting in a journal to help your child maintain or develop a healthy academic mindset. Every evening, have them write one big goal they’d like to accomplish the next day. It can be something as simple as saying something kind to a classmate or staying focused and taking good notes in history class. At the end of the next day, have them sit down and assess whether they’ve accomplished their goal.

7. Plan a Fun Summer Wrap-Up Activity

Mark the end of summer with a fun activity or vacation if it’s within budget or use the opportunity to allow them to do that last thing on their summer bucket list. Knowing that this activity wraps up summer, they’ll be one step closer to accepting the fact that September is near. They’ll also be more focused on the fun memories you helped them create than the dread of going back to class.

8. Encourage a Healthy Academic Mindset

This is should have been #1, but I thought I’d save the best for last.

A literature review based on research conducted by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago Schools Research defines Academic Mindsets as “the psycho-social attitudes or beliefs one has about oneself in relation to academic work.” The research outlines 4 academic mindsets. They are as follows:

I belong in this academic community.
My ability and competence grow with my effort.
I can succeed at this.
This work has value for me.
Creating an environment at home and school that fosters a healthy academic mindset can mean the difference between a kid being happy or depressed, outgoing or suicidal, excelling in life or being stuck. In reality, it can mean something different to everyone. For me, it ultimately means finding the right balance so that our academic goals and pressures do not impose on our mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual beings in a way that is unhealthy and overbearing.

The most important thing to us as parents and educators is to make sure that we safeguard the happiness and well being of our children who are our future. Let’s use the last few weeks of summer to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going and set our kids off to an amazing start for the next school year.

“Every child deserves a champion– an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can be.” -Rita Pierson

Here’s to a great school year…