Easy ways to help your child go to the head of the class(BPT) - The education children receive today will help them throughout their lives. School is the fundamental component of the learning process, but education doesn't stop when kids arrive back home at the end of the day.
"Education and family go hand in hand," says Ellen Marks, curriculum director of Bricks 4 Kidz, an award-winning summer camp and after-school program. "Parents who take an active role by supporting classroom learning will not only see their kids' education blossom, but their relationship with them, too."
The start of the new year is the ideal time to evaluate what you're doing right and where you could improve in regards to supporting your child's education. Marks offers these smart ideas guaranteed to help you keep this resolution in 2017 and beyond:
Connections to real life: One of the best ways to help kids understand classroom lessons is to connect the material to everyday experiences. Practice fractions while cooking. Chat about biology as birds fly by the window. Learning moments are all around, you just have to point them out.
Daily conversations: With a fun, no-pressure approach, go over what your children learned in school. If they don't want to talk right after school, wait until later. During or after dinner may allow enough transition time so you'll find they'll open up more.
Positive attitude: Kids will mirror your attitude toward your work as well as how you view their school, homework and teachers. Stay positive, respectful and model resilience during difficult times; you'll find they'll do the same.
Enriching activities: Select fun after-school activities that emphasize cognitive development while building self-esteem. For example, Bricks 4 Kidz uses relatable tools like LEGO Bricks to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. Learn more at www.bricks4kidz.com and sign up for an After School class.
The parent-teacher relationship: Sending check-in emails, attending conferences and volunteering are ways to build strong relationships with teachers. Be proactive about asking where your child excels and what areas they may need additional help.
Homework help: Good study habits are essential to excelling at school. Create a comfortable homework space with adequate supplies and few distractions. What's more, be an active partner in your child's homework and assist when needed with gentle guidance and encouragement.
Reading buddies: Reading together can instill a lifelong love of literature. Try reading the same books your child is assigned in school so you can foster a good discussion about characters and storylines. When you both finish the book, rent the film version and plan a movie night.
Active learning opportunities: Reading, writing and solving math problems are passive learning activities. At home, encourage active learning where your child builds models, creates art projects and can ask questions. It's amazing to watch their minds work and see what they create.
Health and wellness: A child must first be well before they can effectively learn. Make sure kids stay fueled with a variety of healthy foods. Next, ensure they get a good night's sleep. Full, well-rested kids are always ready and eager to learn.
The real new year begins when you can smell the fresh pink erasers and hear the clatter of brand new pencils on still-smooth notebook covers. Even if you don’t have kids in school, the end of summer and the beginning of fall is a great time to reassess, realign, hit the restart button and make resolutions, such as loving mornings, empowering kids, appreciating others, making fun a priority, being a team, making snacks work hard, fueling up with real food – like burritos and taquitos – and cheering on mom wins, that will help carry your family smoothly through the school year.
New (School) Year, New You
Make family resolutions that stick
(Family Features) Forget Jan. 1. Parents know the real new year begins when you can smell the fresh pink erasers and hear the clatter of brand new pencils on still-smooth notebook covers.
Here are some tips from parents about resolutions they’ve made for the coming school year:
Learn to love mornings
“It was a disaster,” she said. “There was a lot of yelling, a lot of missing socks, a lot of arguments about eating a good breakfast – it was just not the way to start a productive, happy day.”
Luther decided to turn the first – and worst – hour of her day into one of the best by waking up earlier, exercising and turning on music.
Luther also changed the way she looked at breakfast.
“It doesn’t have to be from scratch,” she said, “but it does have to have protein – and be fast. We love frozen breakfast burritos, for example.”
Empower the kids
But kids are eager to help, she said. Just like adults, they feel empowered when they can do things for themselves.
Luther decided to empower her kids and simplify her life at the same time by creating “Get Ready Buckets,” which hold everything they need to get moving in the morning, from hairbrushes to socks.
That same message of empowerment can simplify and improve other stressful times of day. Do the kids walk in the door hungry and cranky and leave you feeling the same way? Stock the freezer with hearty snacks, such as El Monterey Taquitos, that kids can heat up on their own.
“Our teachers put so much time and effort into their jobs,” Merkley said, “and we’re so grateful for that.”
While she usually gives teachers a gift card at the end of the year, she doesn’t wait until then to send notes and emails with a simple, “Thank you.” She also makes sure to say thanks in person – and in front of her kids.
Make fun a priority
“When we laugh and make things and learn things together,” she said, “we’re making memories. I want my kids to remember their childhoods as more than just getting to school on time and cleaning their rooms.”
Be a team
As their motto, the Denneys chose, “Work hard and be nice.” It’s simple, succinct and sums up what they want for their family.
Fuel up with real food
“Sometimes I’ll buy the ingredients myself to cook from scratch and sometimes I’ll look for foods I recognize on the label,” she said. “When I pick up El Monterey Signature Burritos, I see ingredients like fresh-baked tortillas, real cheddar cheese – foods I would buy anyway for my family, so I feel great about that.”
Make snacks work hard
“Protein and real food – that’s what I’m going to look for in afternoon snacks,” she said. “Something that fills the kids up and gets them ready to get back out the door and play, or buckle down and do their homework.”
Cheer on #momwins
“Checking off every last thing on my spring cleaning checklist is a win, for sure,” she said, “but so is a good, smooth morning with my family. So is a sit-down dinner that didn’t stress me out. So is feeling good about what we’re eating. So is every little hug. Those are all #momwins, and I’m going to give myself a little pat on the back for every one.”
For more breakfast, snack and dinner ideas to help you keep your family resolutions, visit ElMonterey.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family eating)
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