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How To Help Your Child Have a Good School Year

"The novelty has worn off, mom." My seventh grader confessed to me the the other day. "The novelty of school?" I inquired. He nodded in affirmation. 

Even if your child enters the school year with full excitement, you are likely to find yourself at some point in the year faced with a child who has lost that spark and excitement. This can come for a number of reasons, and for some it is a one day thing while for others, it is an every day thing. 

How To Help Your Child Have a Good School Year

Whether you are facing uncertainty before the school year begins, a few weeks or months into it, or you simply want to prevent these feelings from coming up, I have some ideas for you to help your child have a good school year this year. These tips are applicable no matter if you send your child to school or homeschool. This works for all children in all circumstances. 
  1. Help your child talk about the exciting things about school. I don't want you ignoring your child's concerns or brushing off novelty wearing off. You can't sweep those things under the rug. There is power in focusing on the positive, though. Always look for the good for your child to focus on and anticipate. 
  2. Give your child opportunities. There are many things you can do outside of school to help your child in school. These may be surprising. Take your child on trips. Let your child have pets. Help your child play with other children. These things help your child gain experience and responsibility in varied areas so they can more confidently face what school requires of them.
  3. Help your child improve language skills. Talk with your child. Not at your child. When your child doesn't know what a word means, explain it. If you don't know, look it up. Teach your child how to find answers. Listen to your child and care about what he/she has to tell you. Make sure you are in a place when your child comes home that you can actually pay attention and listen about the day. Encourage good language skills (speaking clearly, using words and grammar correctly, etc.). But be smart about it. If you correct every phrase your child says, she might stop saying phrases. 
  4. Teach your child to be responsible. I talked above about how a pet can help with that. Require your child to pick up after himself. Expect him to take good care of his things. Teach your child how to work independently in life (hello Independent Playtime!). Have your child finish tasks that she starts. See How to Raise Independent and Responsible Children for more. 
  5. Have routines and respect them. Your child will not do well at school if she is super tired. Have a bedtime. Have a time she wakes up in the morning. These things were very important when she was a baby, and they are important now! They help establish sleep rhythms in your child. 
  6. Read to your child. The current recommendation is 20 minutes a day. Bedtime is an obvious time to get this in. If 20 minutes seems overwhelming at bedtime, which is understandable if you have several kids or a baby to get in bed, do one picture book at bedtime for the routine and find a time earlier in the day to read for 15 minutes. Reading to your child does so much good. Two simple but important things is to build vocabulary and also to plant a love of books in your child. 
  7. Foster a love of books. Speaking of loving books, reading each day isn't the only thing to teach your child to love to read. Own as many books as you can afford and you can store. Make use of public libraries and the school library to keep a variety of books in the home. Vary the difficulty levels of books you read with your child. Give books as gifts. I have several book lists on this blog, from board books to picture books to chapter books. I can help you out!
  8. Do not compare children. This is easier said than done. Do not think about how far ahead or how far behind your child seems in relation to other siblings or other students in the classroom. Yes, you want to be aware of how you can help your child--whether he is excelling or needing extra help. Find ways to gain this knowledge without comparing your child's progress. 
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