Building Better Learning Environments

When your child goes to school, he or she takes the social and emotional skills they have learned at home and apply them in their classroom, the lunchroom, on the bus, at their locker, and at recess. At school, they will have even more opportunities to learn and/or reinforce basic social and emotional skills they need to successfully navigate their larger community—regardless of whether they transition into a work environment or an institution of higher learning.

Just as they have learned the skills at home, they will learn their new skills, framed within the context of their school’s standard for appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Your child will learn these skills by observing the behavior of adults and students alike; through focused learning exercises; through interpersonal exchange with their peers in play and learning activities; and through interpersonal exchange with adults other than their parents/family.

The way your school operates represents the culture of the school, and it defines how students treat each other and how they do their work. At your school, the cultural (or daily) practices evoke many layers of reinforcement for good manners, behavior, responsibility and other character traits. These daily practices send powerful messages to your child about respecting oneself, others, and the school building. Simple things such as greeting your child by name show your child that they are important, and build stronger connection to education. Children who feel “connected” at school perform much better.

Be Involved

You play a vital role in helping shape the culture of your school community. By getting involved in your child’s academic pursuits, activities, and sports, you strengthen the child’s sense of school connectedness. You reinforce the importance of education, and of doing your best. Here are a few ways you can play a vital role in your school community. Each kind of activity establishes your “presence” at the school and sends the clear message that your family cares about supporting the work of the school.

  • Participate in the parent-teacher association.
  • Attend parent-teacher conferences as invited; attend open houses.
  • Be a school/volunteer
  • Serve as a reader, or group leader for special fun days.
  • Offer to tutor or mentor.
  • Assist with special interest groups or sports activities.
  • Work in the library.
  • Create bulletin boards for special community events, holidays, or character building themes.

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Communicate

The most important thing you can do for your child’s academic success relates to homework. New on-line technologies make it so easy for you to communicate with the teacher about your child’s academic performance, concerns, or special needs.

Routinely, most schools use planners or agendas for students to write homework down. Depending on the age of your child, here are some things you can do:

  • Check the planner every night;
  • Communicate with your child about the day; successes they might have had or difficulties;
  • Assign a specified time in the evening for homework and assist young children, as necessary, in completing all assignments;
  • Sign planners if asked;
  • Communicate with the teacher areas of academic difficulty your child is experiencing.
  • Meet with the teacher early in the school year to determine learning goals. Ask how you can help the child meet those goals.
  • Keep track of unit or other major quizzes and remind your child about them, and help them prepare for them.
     

Minimize Chaos

Chaos is a serious deterrent to peace of mind—for both parent and child! Minimize chaos and your child will do better in school, your time with your child will be happier, and your child will go to school ready to learn. Here are some simple ways to minimize chaos:

  • Organize the book bag following homework time. Make sure all library books, lunch money, picture money or other information to be returned to school is in the book bag.

  • Get baths, brush teeth and into bed early enough for the child to get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep.

  • Get up early enough in the morning to have plenty of time and avoid rushing.

  • Lay out clothes, shoes, hair bows, socks, belts, coats, hats, boots—anything the child will be wearing the next day on the night before to keep from gathering everything in the morning.
     

Health

  • Proper hygiene is important to your child’s overall health. Bathing, washing hair, brushing teeth, caring for skin irritations and sores are part of a hygiene regimen that children should get into the habit of early. When children feel ill or uncomfortable they cannot focus on their academic tasks.
  • Proper sleep contributes to their ability to concentrate on their academic work. The amount of sleep children need will vary, but the rule of thumb is 8 hours of sleep per night for everyone! More for younger children is optimal.
  • When children go to school hungry, they will not be able to focus on their tasks. Starting the day with breakfast contributes to their overall health, but also their ability to stay on task at school.
  • An annual health check-up is optimal to ensure all immunizations are up-to-date, including the annual flu shot. Seek help for children with severe allergies. They will not be able to focus on their tasks if they have irritated eyes, stuffy nose, and headaches.

 

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Last Modified: 6/16/2014 11:47:30 AM