There is so much excitement when children go back to school. They anticipate gleefully the chance to see friends, meet the teacher or wear a special outfit for the first day. One can only imagine that this school year will be even more thrilling to begin as most school districts in the country plan to have children return to in-person learning.
For many youth, back to school shopping is also an enjoyable experience. They have their list and support from their parents to get the supplies they need for the year. However, there are a few items not found on any list but absolutely essential for their success. These are to encourage attendance, school readiness, be an active supporter, celebrate the wins and after school chats.
In the fall of 2020 attending school had a whole new meaning. Due the global pandemic and risk of transmission of the virus in close, indoor encounters, school administrators and teachers worked hard to accommodate many different formats of learning. This year many similar formats will still be offered but the vast majority of students will return to attend in person to learn. Whatever the format, whether it is virtual, in person or both, parents and guardians must encourage regular attendance. For most, learning is enhanced when there is connection. Connection comes with regular attendance where students can interact with other students and with their teachers.
Of course, there will be those moments of quarantine or recovery from illness but as soon as those children are clear to return, help them return and be present for their learning.
Children need fuel and rest to learn at their best capacity. Help them become school ready by providing them a nutritious rich meal in the morning and healthy lunch at midday. Remind them that for school-aged children, they should be eating 4-5 fruits and vegetables a day and drinking plenty of water.
In addition, they need adequate sleep to rest their minds in preparation for a new day. Sleep enhances learning, memory, social development and the immune system. Help your children to establish a regular routine before bed. This routine should be calming and free of stimulating electronic devices. Keep the routine brief as the priority is to lay ones head down and drift to sleep. Try not to over pack their daily schedule because often that interferes with a good nights rest.
Be an active supporter of your child in the classroom. For some this comes easy especially if they are their child’s teacher. For others it is difficult to find the time to participate in school activities or volunteer. Volunteering in the classroom is an excellent way to support them. However, not every schedule allows for this. Fortunately, there are other ways to support your students education including awareness of assignments and subjects they are currently learning. One can also communicate regularly with the teacher via e-mail or at minimum attending a parent/teacher conference.
Celebrate the Wins
At every wellness visit I ask the parents what makes them most proud of their child. Academic achievement is the most common response. Remember to recognize and encourage the wins in learning. Children are often given awards in school for various reasons. Celebrate these moments. Let them know just how amazing it is that they are learning and progressing. Help children to see that bouncing back from a poor test is a win. Help them to see that the courage to talk to the teacher about difficulties they might be having in class is a win. Write these “wins” down and reflect on them throughout the school year.
After School Chats
Finally, remember talk and more importantly listen to your child regarding their day at school. Make it a habit to have regular school chats. Consider quiz questions at the dinner table on the subjects they are learning. Or, when they are going to bed at night have them recount their entire day including who they spoke to and what they learned and how they felt during the day. Children are learning to process their experiences and talking about them is an excellent method to accomplish this skill.
We at Thrive Pediatrics hope that this school year is successful for all of you. We wish the best to you teachers as you navigate another potentially difficult year teaching during the pandemic. We admire your dedication. We wish the best to parents and guardians and hope that you can take to heart the above ideas to help support your child’s education.