Nurture Your Young Learner

As this academic year begins, our kids have already been through a lot — even if they’re just starting kindergarten. More than ever they need us to provide structure and encouragement so they can have the best foundation for study and success.

The turbulence of the last year and a half has affected us all, and many children are feeling unsure of what they can expect from this school year. The best thing we can do for them is assure them the basic path to a good education will always be the same, no matter what else happens.

Keep them healthy

Nutritious food, lots of physical activity (up to an hour per day) and anywhere from eight to 11 hours of sleep every night, depending on your children’s ages, are the building blocks for their developing brain, and the intellectual curiosity it will take to keep them invested in their education and pursuing new academic goals.

Show how it’s done

Model the importance of reading to and with your children, show them how you use reading and math skills in everyday life, spend time doing your own “homework” (for you it could be household chores, paying bills or work projects), be mindful of how much time you spend on phone and other devices, etc. You can even bond with your kids by taking an online course, learning a new language or taking on a similar challenge at the same time they’re learning to challenge themselves in school.

Establish a routine

Talk with your children about what they need to do to get ready for school in the morning, what generally happens while they’re in class and how that affects what they need to do in the afternoon and evening. Use these conversations to set up a daily schedule that balances morning preparation, school and afternoon snack and playtime with homework, dinner and bedtime. Routines help them feel in control of their day and teach them the importance of time management.

Dedicate space

Set aside spaces for your child to carry out the routine you’ve established. Try to set aside one desk or section of counterspace where they can study, making as many resources available there as you can. It could be that the family computer is set up somewhere else, or one of your kids could prefer not being assigned to a specific spot for all study activities, but most will function well in this arrangement. If they’re going to have their own phone and/or laptop in that space, set reasonable boundaries on their use.

It’s about the journey

Don’t focus on their grades or accolades so much as the effort they put in along the way. If their grades are mostly good, acknowledge them but apply most of the praise to the hard work they put in and how much they’ve learned and improved. If they’re struggling in a few classes, applaud the work they’ve put in, any improvements they’ve made, and talk with them and their teacher about what they and you can do to help them better understand the material.