It's hard to believe that 25 years ago my daughter Amanda started Grade 1 and my oldest son Chris started Kindergarten. Seems like not so long ago that I was the Mom pretending to be brave and trying my hardest not to cry when I dropped them off at the small country school in Hay Lakes. Not that starting school is a sad thing. But it is an emotional event for a Momma as it officially marks the end of the pre-school years. This week, it's Amanda's turn to fight back the tears as my oldest grandson Ethan begins his Grade 1 adventures and his little brother Caleb enters the fun world of Kindergarten. Such exciting times for our little learners!
I clearly remember my first day of school. I was so proud of my purple lunch kit and could hardly wait to use my new pencil crayons! Who doesn't just love new school supplies? I still get excited when I see all the back-to-school displays at Staples and Walmart. My Grade 1 teacher at Immaculate Conception School in Peace River was Sister Alice Trudeau. She was a gem! Each and every one of us was made to feel special and she new just how to challenge us to not only learn but to try our very best at everything we did.
I grew up in a home with a strong learning environment. My Mom was a teacher. Still is actually! Even though it's been many years since she was in the classroom, I don't think she'll ever lose her desire to teach, encourage and help kids learn. I have her and Sister Alice to thank for a solid educational foundation. And for my love of books!
My favourite subject in elementary school was Reading. Yes, I come from the days when it was called just that! Being a tiny bit competitive, I took the Magic Stairs Library Project very seriously and read a total of 211 books in Grade 1!
I still love reading. And learning. And it's my sincere wish for all students to enjoy school. Adventure awaits! But school is also without a doubt work. And homework. And exams. It's busy mornings hustling to get the kids out the door in time to catch the big yellow school bus. It's making lunches. Every. Single. Day. It's report cards. PTA meetings and parent teacher interviews. And more homework. It can be downright stressful. But as parents and caregivers we can foster healthy habits that will keep everyone smiling throughout the school year and help build that love of learning in our children. Here are 5 ways to get your little student off to a good start:
1. Be a Good Role Model
As a parent, you are your child's first an most important teacher and mentor. Reading books or enrolling in an adult continuing education class will help to instill a positive learning attitude.
2. Set up a Homework Routine
Let your child pick a designated spot to do homework. Allow for a short break after school but encourage them to get the homework done before play time or screen time.
3. Show an Interest
Volunteer at the school if your work schedule allows it. Read the school newsletter. And ask meaningful questions to get your student to open up and share what's going on in their classroom and in their little worlds. Ask about friends. Favourite subjects. Keep the communication lines open and allow them to express their feelings and share experiences. Good and bad.
4. Get them Involved
Without over-scheduling, get your children involved in fun after-school activities. Encourage them to pursue other interests and develop skills. It can be a sport such as basketball or hockey. Art classes or piano lessons. Or clubs such as Girl and Boy Scouts.
5. Set the Tone
Start each day on a cheerful note and help to make sure that school days are happy days. Grumbling about making lunches or the rush to get everyone up and out the door on time will set a negative tone to your little student's day. Get up a bit earlier so you can have that extra cup of coffee. Plan or make lunches and decide on wardrobe and breakfast the night before. Being organized will help start each day off right. Remember... you are the adult. And it's up to you how your child's day begins. And finishes.