It's time to start envisioning how your family would like to improve the way routines work during the school year. Now is the perfect time to sit down with the group and discuss such things as- What are everyone's goals for the year? What are ways we can achieve those goals? When you take the time to sit as a family and brainstorm how to have a productive and positive school year, you would be surprised how great children' ideas are and how much smoother the year progresses. Here are some things to discuss with your kids before the first week.
1. What is the plan for homework? Oh, the homework struggles! I hear about this so often from parents, and really a lot of the problem is WE try to control THEIR homework. As much as possible, allow your children to come up with choices regarding when, where, and how they finish their homework. Even if the choice doesn't appear to be a good one, let them have a chance to figure it out for themselves before you step in and offer suggestions. If you don't want to go completely hands-off, let them choose a location or a time (right after school, after dinner, or before bed) that works best for them. The more choice you give them, the more likely they will do it independently.
2. What consequences and benefits are earned throughout the year? Yes, it is essential you discuss this WITH your children. After you have worked together to come up with their goals for the first quarter or semester, have them help decide what the consequences will be if they don't reach their goals, whatever they may be: grades, getting work completed and turned in, or behavior. Then brainstorm what benefits or rewards they will see as the fruits of their labor. Again, when we include kids in creating consequences and benefits, they are much more likely to agree and follow them.
3. When will we sit down and reevaluate the plan? Even the greatest plans can't remain static. Each progress report or report card week affords an excellent opportunity to review how your child is progressing with their goals. Try to let go until then (it's only 5 weeks!), and allow them to really feel what it's like to complete school work without as much parent involvement. Then, at the 5-week mark, you can all sit down again and review and revise the plan- what's not working and what needs tweaking so that they end the semester where they want to be.
Don't forget! Grades are NOT the end-all-be-all! They are just markers in a progression of learning. Especially in elementary school- that is the time to let your child get lower grades while they learn how to take over school work themselves and recover from mistakes and failures on their own.
I have fun study skills classes for students ages 11-14 that will get them on track with goals and work habits to make this semester successful! Check out the Academic Road Trip courses under the Services tab!