In our year round district, today was the first day of school. Fresh pencils, new backpacks, and bright smiles could be seen all around the neighborhood. In addition to physically preparing the boys for school, we also concentrate on preparing them mentally. A lot of routines change with the new school year, and I truly believe that kids thrive on routine. Kids who know what is expected of them are confident and I believe that when it comes to school, confidence is king.
Here are five things we do in our house to make sure the boys are emotionally prepared for school:
1. Sign a contract. Set rules from the beginning so that later on, there are no questions later. Allowing your child to collaborate on these rules will give him a sense of pride and ownership. Some of the rules on our contract are: -Unless you have straight A’s on your paper report card (we can also check grades daily online), there is no playing video games during the week. iPod touch included. -After school, get a snack and start homework immediately. After homework is finished you can play with friends. -Bedtime is 8 (for Jack) and 9 (for Michael). No excuses. -If you have trouble waking up in the morning, bedtime will be 15 minutes earlier the next night.
2. Make lists. We make lists for the boys on a large whiteboard in their hallway so they know exactly what is expected of them in the morning and evening. They learn time management skills and are never caught off guard by forgetting responsibilities. The boys often add items to their lists, or write similar lists for their binders and agendas to prepare them for their day at school.
3. Communicate with teachers. Knowing that teachers and parents are communicating is one of the top ways to instill confidence in your school-aged child. Without making a huge deal out of something, you can give your child a pat on the back about a good deed they did at school or ask specific questions about what they learned during the day. Don’t you get a self-esteem boost when you find out that someone is saying good things behind your back? It works the same for children, but times 100.
4. Give credit where credit is due. 90% on a tough spelling test? 100% on a book report? These are victories! You child works hard for their grades, so make sure to celebrate the little things as well as the larger ones (straight A’s). If you have a child who regularly brings home those grades, don’t forget to acknowledge that, as well. You don’t have to take them out for ice cream every time, but maybe let them pick a game to play after dinner or stay outside and play for an extra 15 minutes or so.
5. Keep a running tab. We all have our down days, right? On those days, refer back to the list you’ve been keeping of all the great things your child has done during this school year. Large or small, remembering these positive things will help him get over this hump and move on with confidence.
Confident kids are successful kids. They are also happy kids. I’d love to hear how you instill confidence and self-esteem in your school aged child. What works best in your house?