Now that our children are back in school after a year and a half of zoom classes, let’s make sure they have the tools and support they’ll need to be successful. Here are 5 tips that can help you guide them.
1. Organization with Merit Planner
All kids (and parents too!) need structure. When they start school, they should have their own paper planner where they can enter homework, quizzes/tests, and project assignments as well as sports, clubs, and social events. I use the Merit Planner because it has 7 days (not just school days) that are divided into 30-minute segments starting at 6:00 am and ending at midnight. By entering in classes for the semester, they’ll have the structure to enter in homework, test, and project dates for each class.
2. Homework and Study Skills
While in class, your children can enter homework assignments right in their planners under the class name on its due date. At home, they can schedule time in their planners to do each task needed to complete their homework. They might block off 45 minutes for math, 30 minutes for research, and 60 minutes to read. By allotting chunks of time to complete the work, they’ll know exactly how to gauge each night’s workload.
While most students prefer to study for exams the night before, research shows that they’ll learn the concepts better and retain this knowledge for longer periods if they spread out their studying over 4 days. To study for a vocabulary test on a Friday, for instance, they could research the definitions by making flashcards on Monday. Then on Tuesday, they study the words and self test; on Wednesday, they write sentences using each word; and on Thursday, they test themselves again. This will ensure that they ace their tests.
3. All Flashcards
When students review all of the flashcards that they have written for a course — once a week for the entire school year — they don’t need to relearn the concepts for final exams at the end of the term because they wouldn’t have forgotten them. Have your child review all flashcards or notes on Sundays, and ask them to put these tasks in their planner for the entire school year.
4. Fun Stuff
Set up play dates for young ones and host parties for teens. I used to cook up my girls’ favorite foods and allowed them to invite a dozen friends for sleepovers. They always had a blast and I loved being the fly on the wall so I was always in the know about what was going on in their lives. Have your children block off time in their planners for sports, social time with friends, and family outings. That way, you’ll be sure they have a happy balance of academics and fun.
5. Family Meetings
Have regular weekly family meetings to keep open communication and to discuss goals. I used to set these meetings for Sunday mornings and serve their favorite Sunday brunches. Sitting around the dining room table with our planners, we discussed each of our plans for the following week. This helped us streamline transportation schedules, family outings, meal prep, and chores. I found that by giving everyone plenty of notice for family vacations, holiday party dates, and medical appointments, there was less resistance from the kids because it was written in their planners by themselves.
Start the new school year with a system that keeps them organized and promotes strong study skills. This will build their academic skills as well as personal confidence.