5 Tips for Return to School Success for Parents
By Dr. Henry J. Svec
As your children gets ready to return to school, Elementary or High School age, likely things are ready to go. School supplies, special clothes or gym equipment are ready for that first day. But what can you do as a parent to make this year a roaring success? Here is my list of 5 must dos for you when it comes to teachers or schools:
1. Visit with the classroom teacher as soon as possible. Just 5 minutes to introduce yourself and indicate how you support what he/she is doing and want to know how you can help at home. Share your email and contact information. Don't wait for parent-teacher night, do this as soon as you can. Even before school starts is best.
2. Find out the expectations for homework. Is it new work or things not completed during the day? Homework should be work that is a review for the next day or projects that are in the future. With 6-8 hours of school time, there is no excuse for needing more time at home to finish things. If this starts to happen, get to the school and find out why work isn't getting done there. Young children should have 30 minutes homework, older children 45-60 minutes per night. You are getting them ready for high school and college or university. Work is good.
3. Ask for an "enrichment file" for your child, especially in elementary school. Children need to work on what they are interested in and excited about. The file is simply that, with a task or goal set for a project to be completed at a specified time. If your child is in grade 4 and interested in fish this week, the weekly enrichment file may have instructions on doing a one page report on fish that live in a local river. Use of internet research or a call to the local conservation authority may be the method to collect that information. The product could be an actual report of one page, a verbal presentation to the class or short video. On Monday after completion, the enrichment file has a new task. Whenever your child is finished their work or are bored, they are allowed to work on their project. A great tool to help your child love school.
4. Find out the level of exercise per day for your child. Children need at least 20 minutes of cardio exercise twice a day to increase focus, concentration and performance. If you can do 20 minutes before school that is an amazing tool we often recommend for ADHD. One session in the early afternoon is also needed for all children, not just those diagnosed with ADHD. If ok, and if you have one, allow your child to wear a wrist HR monitor for a couple of days to ensure they are getting enough exercise. Cardio bursts are best if your child is cleared to them.
5. Don't ever let your child know if you are going to the school to advocate on their behalf. If you have to do this, also tell the school that your child should not know that you were advocating. Often with a child diagnosed with a disability you will need to advocate and that is part of your job. Teaching your child to self-advocate is the key, but you don't want them to think you will always fight their battles or that they can get away with certain behaviours because you will always help them out. Advocating with a disability or against injustice is something they will need to learn.
Your job as a parent is also to get ready for school. Are you ready?