Is Your Child Ready to Return to School?
As your child prepares to return to school this fall, we might be able to offer some advice – at Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, we’ve been providing educational solutions to kids in crisis since 1887. Many of our boys and girls arrive at our Home two years behind their peers academically, and we hope that some of what we do to help our kids catch up in school might help your child, too.
Before your child even cracks open a book, you’ll have to create a proper learning environment. And once school starts, you’ll have to continue your interest in their education. With that in mind, here are 10 ways to get your child’s school year off to a good start:
1 Establish a daily routine.
Wake your child up at the same time every day and eat breakfast together. Allocate specific time for playing with friends or video games, and stick religiously to that schedule. Enforce the same bedtime. While they may not admit it, kids crave structure, and these rules will help you to enforce other rules at home.
2 Ask your child to develop a back-to-school shopping list.
Specifically, make a list of the subjects your child is studying, as well as the school supplies that will be needed for each class. This is an important early step in helping to establish a sense of responsibility.
3 Set goals with your child.
“All A’s” may not be realistic for all children. Discuss specific goals for grades in each subject, and go beyond grades to ask what your child is hoping to learn in school. Write these down together, and save them in a special place.
4 Get to know your child’s friends and their parents.
Organize a gathering, such as a potluck, with them. At Mercy Home, knowing who our children are spending time with is critical to their success. When one of our boys was recently elected class president, that was a good sign their hanging out with the right crowd. But we still ask about their friends at school.
5 Find another adult to help.
Identify someone who your child trusts to encourage their to learn—receiving additional encouragement from a coach or a church leader may help your child’s focus. At Mercy Home, our Friends First mentoring program matches boys and girls with an adult mentor in order to provide such positive reinforcement.
6 Quiz your kid.
Ask what your child is learning in school. You do not have to know anything about chemistry to help your child with their chemistry homework; ask what the chemistry class is learning this week, and allow your child to teach you something about the material.
7 Monitor your child’s first week at school closely.
At Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, we believe the most important part of the school year is at the very beginning. Ask your child about teachers and classmates, and listen for signs of concerns. A teacher your child complains about is a teacher you need to get to know. At Mercy Home, our education coordinators call each school our children attend in order to personally touch base about their progress during the first week.
8 Plan to attend parent-teacher conferences.
Prepare ahead of time with your employer if you need time off, but make this a priority. School teachers report often that the parents who don’t show up for the parent-teacher conferences are those whose children are struggling.
9 Check in on progress.
Make time with your child to talk about their progress toward the goals you set in #3. Put these goals on a calendar and review them at least once a month. Adjust the goals if necessary, but whatever you do, don’t forget to check in regularly. Our volunteer tutors work weekly with our children in achieving their educational goals.
10 Reward your child’s success.
Build on success, rather than dwelling on failure. At Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, we take a strengths-based approach. Our boys and girls are given more freedom and privileges as they meet their goals.
Partnering with your child’s learning is a formula for success!
If your child is having serious troubles in school – a big drop in grades or discipline problems – please reach out to someone. You can contact Mercy Home for Boys & Girls by firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 877-24-START.