As your child goes back to school, you gear up to help them get through the year. From helping them develop their reasoning skills to establishing healthy routines to keeping up with their achievements, you’re as involved in the school system as your child is. These 7 parenting tips can help smooth the back-to-school ride for the entire family.
1. Keep digital records of your child’s work and achievements.
Most schools still give students a great deal of paperwork, even when those students have programs that provide them with laptops or tablets. Just because the school captures its records on physical paper, though, doesn’t mean that you have to. Digital records of your child’s work can be easily organized and stored in one place.
You can take a photo of each of your child’s graded worksheets and homework assignments. You might also take pictures of tests, assessments, and physical projects. Everything your child does is an achievement, and many parents want as much documentation as possible. Additionally, keeping track of their papers can help you stay on top of their educational needs.
For example, you may use software to consolidate your photos of social studies worksheets into one PDF. With everything in one place, you can look to see what areas your child excels in or struggles with. This allows you to tailor your homework help approach. PDFs for parents allow you to track your child’s progress simply by swiping a screen. It’s a much more efficient and easily organized system than binders and unlabeled note sheets.
2. Use internet-based resources to keep up with your child’s school life.
Most schools have entered the modern world with regards to their online resources. Grades for all classes are often published online, available to view with the click of a button. Your child’s progress reports should be just as easy to access. One helpful idea is to save a progress report PDF. PDF formatting is designed to be versatile, easily converted, and readable across multiple screens. A progress report PDF will be viewed just as simply on your mobile device as your laptop.
Grades aren’t the only online resources you’ll have, either. Teachers will often post copies of their syllabuses. Some proactive teachers will even update their classroom webpage with nightly explanations of the homework assignment and materials used in class. Such a presence is a huge help when you’re staying connected to your child’s school life. You’ll have easy notice of upcoming due dates, parent nights, field trips, tests, assignments, and other important reminders.
3. Communicate with your child’s teacher and any other involved education professionals.
When you’re a parent, it’s important to take a proactive role in your child’s education. The teacher’s job is to teach, but your job is to make sure your child is being taught in the best way possible for their individual style. This is especially important for parents of children with learning disabilities. Simple communication about necessary accommodations can prevent a lot of headache down the road.
You can always use the tried-and-true “calling after hours” or “dropping by the classroom” methods, but digital communication has made conversation so much easier. You don’t have to go out of your way or feel like you’re bothering the teacher. All you need to do is send a quick email to touch base with them.
Some teachers actually use online portal software to make “office hours.” When you sign on during these specified time periods, you may be able to do text, voice, and video chat with them. When schools don’t use portal software or office hours, you can sometimes accomplish the same thing through a Skype call scheduled over email.
4. Set routines that teach your child about responsibility.
When children are going through their emotional and neurological development, it’s important to provide them with a stable environment and basic structure. One of the best ways to do this is through routines. Experts recommend eating dinner at around the same time every night. You should also schedule time for your child to do their homework and study. Make sure you’re available to supervise and assist. Have your child go to bed at a certain hour. And after you’ve set the routines, enforce them.
Be kind but firm about the structure. Make sure that you explain to your child why homework time, bedtime, and other routines are important. One great idea for familial bonding is to have your child’s homework time be your “work” time. As they do their worksheets and other assignments, you should take care of whatever unfinished projects and non-replied communications are clogging your feeds.
You can work on your laptop while they work with a pencil. This time is also a good point to check those aforementioned online resources and update your child’s school PDFs. You can also access PDFs for parents with contact info. It’s even possible to sign permission slips electronically. Almost all interaction can be completed in just a few clicks.
5. Listen to your child and talk through problems to teach them critical thinking skills.
Homework and study time isn’t the only important time you should set aside each evening. You should also have time to communicate with your child. Sit down with them to go through their thoughts and feelings. Even if those thoughts and feelings seem silly, make it clear that you take them seriously.
Children can often be prone to worrying. When they fixate on a potential problem or something they did “wrong,” don’t shut them down. Instead, help them to problem solve. You’ll be tempted to say, “That won’t happen,” or, “It’s not a big deal.” But you should get in the habit of saying, “Okay, so how would we fix that conflict if it happened?” and, “What went wrong? How can you learn from that to make sure things go better next time?”
6. Set realistic expectations and praise improvements, even small ones, rather than adding pressure.
If you give your child a list of goals they must achieve, they’ll become nervous and stressed. It’s better to let them set their own goals while you encourage from the sidelines. Make sure your expectations are realistic. Maybe you don’t expect straight As, but you will praise kind teacher comments and passion just as much as you would a perfect report card.
Use your digital updates to give specific encouragement. Maybe you got a pleased email from a teacher. Maybe your child’s school PDFs are showing trends of improvement and hard work. Maybe you’re proud to see that they’ve finished a homework assignment that isn’t due for another week. Whatever the achievement, make sure your child knows that you’re proud of them.
7. Teach your child to organize and declutter by creating both a physical and digital workspace for them.
Gone are the days when kids didn’t use computers until high school. Middle schools and even some elementary schools are providing their students with laptops and tablets to help them access their assignments. If you’re going to teach your child to organize, you’ll need to give them tips for both physical space and cyberspace.
Make sure their study area is in a clutter-free and distraction-free part of the house. Ideally, it should be big enough for both of you to comfortably work together. When you help your child with digital organization, teach them how to use folders to keep their documents in order. Show them how to change their file formats from PDF to DOC to JPG and back. Encourage them to play with brainstorming and organizational tools, so they learn to sort their own thoughts.
Modern technology has made the classroom more accessible and intuitive than ever before. Familiarize yourself with the resources available to you so that you can help your child get the best education possible. Their academic success and emotional health are deeply affected by your participation.
By Katherine M.