I’m heading into my 10th year of teaching third grade. To say I love my job is an understatement. I love seeing that spark in a child’s eye when they “get it.” I love watching children learn to love to read. I love hearing that my former students are graduating, going to college, heading into the workforce, and becoming successful adults. I also love seeing parents support their children and give them what they need to be successful. While this may look different in every household, because there is no cookie cutter answer, here are some broad things you can do to help your school aged kids!
1. Consistent bedtime.
The bottom line is tired kids can’t absorb everything that is thrown at them in an elementary school day. They’re falling asleep, frustrated, and unfocused.
2. READ! Read every day.
I know, I know. I’m a reading teacher of course I want them to read. However, if you’ve looked over a recent math test, social studies, or science test, you’ll notice there are paragraphs and there are written responses. If your child can read a fiction chapter book, an informational text, Magic School Bus book, etc., then they can read a word problem. Some nights for us, we get in 5 minutes; the next night we might get in 30 minutes, but it’s our bedtime routine, and it happens. My Lillian also loves that it is cuddle time, and we all read together.
3. Be involved in homework.
Your child may struggle. Your child may be gifted. Your child may be right in the middle. However, every child should have a little attention given to homework when they get home. If nothing else, this sends a message to your child that school is a priority for all of us, and we are in this together. The first few months of kindergarten, I sat next to Lillian, and we did everything together. As she progressed, I backed away, but I always check her homework. Some days I’m like, “This is great, hard work. Great!” Other days, “Hey Lillian, read this again. Is this your best?” But she knows there’s going to be accountability at home.
4. Back the teacher.
You may disagree with your child’s teacher. You may think she’s awful at her job, BUT to your child, BACK HER UP! Should you call her to discuss issues? Absolutely. Stand up for your child, get the full story before you get angry. Talk to the teacher BEFORE you call the principal. Your child is looking at you for guidance. If you are disrespectful to your child’s teacher through a note your child can read, they’re going to read it and feel like they can be rude to their teacher. If you are disrespectful to your child’s teacher at the dinner table, they’re going to be disrespectful to the teacher in the classroom. This just compounds the problem instead of working to create a better environment for your child.
5. Show your face at school.
Go to conferences, work fall carnival, and eat lunch with your child. Basically, let your child know that school is a happy, fun place for you too. Let them know you’re involved and working hard to make sure they learn.
6. Give them the answers to “WHY?”
Often when we’re doing some kind of work, Lillian says, “Mom, why do I have to do this math worksheet?” I try to avoid the “because I said so” answer. I try to explain that you have to do this math to be able to plan a grocery budget when you have a family. She also hears this one a good bit “because I don’t want you to be a lazy adult. I want you to go to college and be successful so you can have a family of your own one day.” Basically, I’m not paying your bills for your whole life, so you have to do stuff you don’t want to do sometimes. I promise you’ll appreciate it one day.