Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Are You Giving Your Child The Edge At School?

Today the pressure to succeed at school begins even earlier than ever. Children in kindergarten and first grade are held to a standard of success that their parents never had to worry about. While in the past those first few years of schooling were pressure free and simply intended to introduce children to formal education, today children are tested on their knowledge and ability within the first weeks of kindergarten and that testing continues throughout the rest of their public school education. This places an enormous pressure on young children and yet many parents are not doing everything they can to give their child the edge and help them succeed at school. Giving your child the edge does not mean hiring a tutor, buying an expensive educational program, or spending hours every day drilling your child. There are several simple steps every parent can take to give their child the edge at school.

First, make sure your child has enough sleep the night before. Many parents do not send their children to bed until they themselves go to bed. Growing children need between 10-12 hours of sleep a night. While there are a few children who seem to require less, the majority of children need at least this much. If your child appears tired, is difficult to wake in the morning, or has circles under her eyes then you should move her bedtime up until you find the magic number that gives her the rest she needs. If she is tired and lacking energy then it is much more difficult for her to learn and pay attention at school.

Second, make sure your child has a good breakfast and is provided with a good lunch and snack. Growing children need to eat frequently. They should never be sent to school on any empty stomach and they should not be expected to succeed at school for an entire day without regular meals and snacks. If you are concerned about your child's weight simply cutting back on the amount of meals and food is not a good choice. Instead, try to provide healthy snacks. That should be your goal even if weight is not a concern. Sugary snacks and empty calories are not much more helpful than no food at all when it comes to helping a child keep focused and energized throughout the day.

Fourth, make sure your child is appropriately dressed for the day and their school environment. When the weather is hot make sure they are dressed in cool clothing, when the weather is cold make sure they are dressed in warm clothing. When the weather or school environment is changeable then provide layers so the child can adjust accordingly. Also make sure the clothing is something the child can manage themselves. Many bathroom accidents occur among young children who have trouble with their clothing and the worry about this can provide a further distraction.

Fifth, project the right attitude toward school and your child's education. If you send the message that school is not important, that the teacher is not worthy of respect, and that your child's learning is not essential then your child will receive that message loud and clear. As early as kindergarten and first grade some children decide to give up on school. Make sure that does not happen to your child by projecting a positive attitude toward school and education.

Sixth, get involved. Know your child's teachers and school administration. Be familiar with their classroom, routine, special events, and assignments. The more you know about your child's school life then the more proactive you can be to head off potential problems and help them succeed in school.

If you make sure your child has adequate sleep, sufficient food, and appropriate clothing while you project the right attitude and get involved in their education then you have done everything you can to give your child an edge on success.

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