I am a member of a number of online parenting groups which discuss thoughts and concerns around parenting. One of the recent key topics is “How to help kids be successful in school.”(Most of these groups are based in the Northern Hemisphere and they are about to start their new academic year in September.)
What is interesting to me is that some parents think this task of being successful at school only begins now as their child is packing their bag for “big school”!
In reality, preparation begins the day your baby is born!
All teachers will say that children going to school need to eat well, sleep well, lots of gross motor play to be able to concentrate in class, but you cannot make that happen over night. So the preparation starts many years before. A child needs to learn and understand the purpose of a routine and how to care for equipment and toys. He also needs to learn how to listen to an instruction and follow through with it; to participate in a group and take turns, to be kind to peers and so on. All of these key lessons of life will be learned in pre-school, but the roots of their learning happens in the home.
Children learn by example
If you want your children to eat healthy food, they need to share meals with you, their parents, eating healthy food! If you want them to have manners, you need to be speaking to them and your husband or wife politely, respectfully ….. all the time. Daily routines teach daily habits, which in turn creates a sense of safety and peace of mind, a calmer child. If parents keep this in mind, and put into practice what they say e.g. “at six o’clock its tidy up time” and at six o’clock this is actioned children learn about time, they learn to trust what Mom and Dad say. If Mom and Dad also tidy up their things at the end of each day or activitiy they are modeling what they expect their children to do!
Routines of preparing for the next day, for example, if your child’s bag is packed for pre-school the night before and waiting by the door for her to pick up and take out to the car in the morning, it is one less thing to worry about in the morning. This can signal the beginning of the bedtime routine each late afternoon:
1) Bag at the door
2) Clothes laid out on the chair for the morning
3) Eat supper together
4) Bath time
5) Story time with Mom or Dad
6) Bedtime prayers and cuddles
7 ) Lights out.
If you are a working parent and the bedtime routine is begun by your care-giver, when it is the same routine each night, it is still familiar and therefore your child is more relaxed because they know what is coming next. When you get home slip into the groove of what is already happening so that you keep them moving along in the routine, towards settling into bed peaceful nights sleep.