Even amid the sizzling days of summer, it's not too early to start thinking about the new school year. A great place to begin is by considering ways to equip your kids to love school. Here are four practical ideas to help you do just that.
Attitude is Everything
Share with your children that school is important and a privilege. Let them know that learning is exciting.
Start a list of things your kids like about school. Recess and lunch may be at the top, but look for additional positive aspects. Discuss these positives at mealtime, in the car and before bedtime.
When you get school supplies, make it a special time together. If your budget allows, get a new back-to-school outfit or uniform for the first day of school.
Look for "Back to School" activities at your students' school and make plans to participate in them.
Most of all, model a positive attitude about school and help your children get excited about the new adventure that awaits them.
Build Up Their Confidence
Bolster your children's confidence by communicating that you believe in them and appreciate how they learn. If your children struggle with particular subjects and/or have learning challenges, stay positive.
Use statements like, "I believe God has a special way for you to learn." Or, "We are going to look into your learning style and get you support if you need it."
If you have older elementary children, find books to read about successful people who learn differently and perhaps struggled in their school years, but went on to do great things. Role models encourage children that they can succeed.
Talk With Your Kids
If your children are young, talk about going back to school and all that it involves. Make sure they are aware of the new things they'll encounter, and alleviate their fears and concerns as much as you can.
If your children have already hit a difficult area with a particular subject and/or a learning issue and have concerns about dealing with those issues again, be proactive and talk about ways to find solutions together. Encourage them that this is a new school year, and it can also be a new beginning.
Homework is an Opportunity to Practice
Homework isn't a punishment given by the teacher. Rather, it's an opportunity to practice what is being taught in the classroom. Remain positive about homework, and your attitude will be contagious.
An encouraging concept to discuss with your students is the "10,000 Hour Rule" from the book Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. He says that the greatest athletes, musicians, inventors and dancers practiced for at least 10,000 hours before they became really successful at their "art."
Sometimes kids think that certain people can just do things easily and it doesn't take a lot of work for them. But even Dirk Nowitzki, the MVP of the 2011 NBA Finals, practiced every day for 20 years! Sharing stories like this is a positive way of showing your kids that there's truth to the old adage, "Practice makes perfect."
Once they understand that homework has merit, give them a special place to do it. With each of your kids, brainstorm ways to set up homework environments suited to his or her learning style that will energize, empower and equip the student to study more effectively. Then execute your ideas so each child knows where his or her homework spot is and feels comfortable in it. Your efforts will help turn potential homework hassles into healthy homework habits.