Parents and educators share a common desire, that our children receive the very best. Whether a child attends public school, charter, or private school, these tips, if used by parents, will help educators as we educate our nation’s future. It is important that parents utilize these tips to help drive home the teaching and lessons from school. The learning cannot just happen at the school; it must also happen at home.
I write from two perspectives, David McGuire, the education reformer and education policy geek who believes that education is the social justice issue of the generation and as Principal McGuire, the elementary school principal who wants the best for his students and students all over Indianapolis. Through these lenses, I am offering five tips from educators to parents.
Tip #1: Feed them breakfast.
Because most schools offer breakfast, many parents feel they do not have to worry about that meal. Actually, that is false. Often times children do not eat breakfast at school because it is not the breakfast they want. Breakfast is extremely important to the nourishment and the focus of students at school. Children do not do well when they do not eat breakfast. Their focus is off and they miss vital aspects of their learning because they are thinking more about how hungry they are instead of the solution to the math problem on the board. Children are set up for failure when they skip breakfast.
Tip #2: Get your child to school on time.
There is a start time for a reason. If the school day begins at 8:00 your child needs to be there at least five to ten minutes earlier at the minimum. When children arrive late to school, they miss a lot of the valuable preparation time schools have implemented to prepare children to learn. Arriving 30 minutes to an hour late to school consistently will add up to lost instructional time throughout the school year. These are minutes and hours that cannot be made up. There is a saying, “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is to be forgotten.” Parents make sure your child isn’t forgotten.
Tips #3: Get your child on a schedule.
Going to bed Sunday night at 9:00 p.m., Monday night at 10:30 p.m., then Tuesday night at 12:00 a.m.is a bad idea. Feeding them dinner at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, 8:30 p.m. on Monday, and 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday is also a bad idea. Allowing your child to be a school all day and then with you all night as you run errands until 9:00 p.m. and then having your child rush to complete their homework is also a really bad idea. Children need a consistent schedule and routine. They are used to schedules and routines because they have them at school, but when routines and schedules are only at school and not at home, it makes life difficult at school.
Tips #4: Talk to your children.
It is hard to hear a child come to school and say their daddy or mommy does not talk to them. Often times as educators we say, “Did your mom tell you what I said?” or “Didn’t your dad talk to about saying those words?” Talking to your child is an important interaction. Whether it is on the ride to or from the school where you turn the radio off and have a conversation or whether it is at home over breakfast or dinner, having those conversations is a good idea. It can keep you in the know about what is going on with your children and it also allows you to share some wisdom with them to ensure they stay on the right path.
Tip #5: Give them alternative learning experiences.
There is nothing better than learning something that cannot be found in a textbook or something you did not hear at school. Children need these alternative learning experiences to expand their creativity and make them more well-rounded. Go on adventures with your children. Take them to new places. Not all these learning experiences require much money, time, or planning. Parents, alternative learning experiences allow your children to ask questions they normally wouldn’t ask, explore situations they normally wouldn’t explore, and have some fun they normally wouldn’t have.
Help us help your child. It is important that we do this work together!