Back to School Engagement Tips for Parents
We have provided guidance on how to keep summertime learning loss from holding your child back as they enter the new school year, but there’s another phenomenon you will want to watch out for as back to school season kicks in. Your children are about to spend up to six hours a day in a classroom setting with the pressures of academic and social performance causing fatigue in some shape or form. The stimulation they have received in being active and outdoors through the summer may take a backseat to a set schedule and homework. To make sure your kids remain as engaged through the school year as they were in the fun summer months, you (as a parent) will need to supplement the classroom experience with some innovative ways to keep them excited about learning. Today, our Foundation is here to provide some inspiration.
5 Ways to Keep Your Kids Even More Engaged in Learning Through the School Year
1. Keep the Outdoor Learning Going
It’s easy to get into the habit of letting the professional educators take over the reins when it comes to learning during the school season. However, the current curriculum may not afford your children with one of the most valuable and effective educational settings – the great outdoors. The benefits of outdoor learning are numerous and proven. Some schools that work together with foundations such as ours are able to provide students with outdoor programs. This is a promising development that we hope continues to grow.
If there are no such programs at your child’s educational institution, find out if (and how) you can help start one. In addition, set aside some time after work and/or on the weekends to take your child on outdoor learning experiences. It’s not just a summertime opportunity, as there are autumn, winter, and spring inspirations that will carry you and them through the entire school year.
2. Get Involved in Their Homework
When kids are told to sit down for two hours to do their homework while you toil away in the kitchen or on your laptop (etc.) it feels like a chore. It can have them lose interest in the work. However, when you take interest in the tasks that they have at hand, it sparks their own.
Ask them about their assignment, show curiosity, and even feign an inability to fully grasp the concept, which will get them excited about the chance to show you (the parent) something that they know and you don’t. Children love this role reversal and will jump at the opportunity to capitalize on it. Who knows, you may indeed learn something yourself in the process!
3. Get Involved in Their School
If the only time you step foot on your child’s school grounds is to drop them off and pick them up, it’s not enough. Make a pledge to get more involved not just at the dinner table during homework, but at the school itself. Participate in the planning and execution of field trips, school dances, sports events, fundraisers, and more. Your child will notice your involvement and become more engaged themselves. In addition, by continuing to interact with other involved parents, teachers, administrative personnel, and all others involved in the local curriculum, you will find opportunities to come up with and suggest new initiatives (as per item #1). It will not only serve to get your kids more excited about learning and the ongoings of their school, but all other students, too.
4. Inquire About Your Child’s Daily Concerns and Opinions
Parents often ask “How was your day?” after their child has concluded their day at school. The invariable answer of “fine” lands with a dull thud. Repeating this day after day gets you nowhere when it comes to looking for opportunities to increase your child’s engagement levels during the school year.
Instead, speak to your child in their voice. Instead of just “How was your day?”, add “Anything lame happen?” and/or “Which class was the most boring?” while also flipping the script to ask if anything cool and/or exciting occurred. When you casually (yet directly) inquire about these specifics, you are much more likely to get telling responses. Your child’s answers will uncover educational and social gaps that need to be addressed and/or encouraged. For example, if math class continues to be a massive bore (their words) then you know this is an area you need to work on with them, coming up with a way to make math more interesting by using subject matter they can relate to during homework time. And when they continue to communicate excitement/interest in a certain subject, you get a better idea of what gets them going, and you can foster this interest and potential talent around it.
These daily answers will also give you important talking points for up and coming parent-teacher interviews. The possibilities are endless when you ask the right questions of your children.
5. Show Pride (Lots of It!)
It doesn’t matter how much your child rolls their eyes after you gush about their accolades, they secretly love it. In following all of the above, you will become more privy to all their work at school, instead of just waiting until report card day rolls around, which can be too late to take corrective action.
With each passing essay, paper, quiz, test, art project, and so forth, you will find successes to celebrate, even if your child is having a challenge in some areas. Celebrate those successes, no matter how small it may seem to them. Don’t only place A+ report cards on the refrigerator door, but the C+ ones too when the latter was an improvement on a prior result. Whenever there is a new milestone of some sort during the school year, reward your child in some manner. This may be with an extra serving of dessert (after a healthy meal of course), a little boost in the week’s allowance, or dare we say giving them control of what the family watches on Netflix that weekend (too far?).
The bottom line, is that when you show lots of pride for all their accomplishments, you instill confidence within them. You will also directly increase their engagement levels in their own work. Go nuts!