Linda Lewis Griffith

8 tips to help your child succeed at school — from homework to healthy meals

Gail Seminara, an instructional aide at Santa Margarita Elementary School, shows Tristan Pullen, 9, where he will sit for fourth grade while sister Belle, 5, checks out what upper grades look like. Atascadero Unified was the first district to head back to school in 2019.
Gail Seminara, an instructional aide at Santa Margarita Elementary School, shows Tristan Pullen, 9, where he will sit for fourth grade while sister Belle, 5, checks out what upper grades look like. Atascadero Unified was the first district to head back to school in 2019. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

School bells are ringing once again. Follow these ABCs to ensure that your children do their very best in the classroom:

A. Attend school functions. Parents who go to Back-to-School Night events, parent-teacher conferences and fundraisers become partners in their children’s educations. They get to know their kids’ teachers and school principals. They stay abreast of school happenings. And they contribute to the overall well-being of the institution.

B. Be available to assist with homework. Homework is a family affair. Moms and dads can answer Junior’s questions about his arithmetic. They can oversee kids’ organizational skills and teach them how to budget their time or place completed assignments in the correct folder. Parents should never do children’s projects for them. But adult guidance and encouragement say, “Your education is top priority for me.”

C. Create a stable environment. Boys and girls flourish when they have peaceful surroundings and daily routine. They develop habits that foster self-control. They learn to follow directions and are more cooperative with their folks and teachers. They master important social skills, such as sharing and waiting their turn. Parents can nurture stability by establishing regular times for meals, homework and bedtimes. They can set and consistently enforce household rules. They can also avoid over-scheduling kids in too many extracurricular activities.

D. Daily reading to your children. The most important parental activity that contributes to school success is reading aloud to your youngsters. Starting when tots are tiny, hold them on your lap and discuss the pictures on the page. As their attention spans lengthen, read simple plot lines. Don’t worry if they want the same story over and over. They’re enjoying the familiarity of the words and the closeness they feel with you.

E. Eat a healthy breakfast. Make sure kids are prepped for learning by starting the day with a calm, nutritious meal. Avoid heavily sweetened cereals or foods laden with chemical and fats. Instead, provide fresh fruits, grains and proteins to maximize energy and alertness.

F. Forego screen time. Studies repeatedly show a negative correlation between the amount of time kids spend in front of a screen and their grades, sleep habits and social skills. Create screen- and phone-free times during the day. Turn off all screens at least one hour before bedtime. Designate screen-free weekends. Never allow screen-use during mealtimes. Discourage devices on short car rides, engaging in conversation instead. Finally, be a good role model and limit your own time on a screen or cellphone.

G. Get interested in learning. Make learning and education a lifelong family pursuit. Engage in stimulating hobbies such as cooking, learning a new language and camping. Visit historic and cultural sites. Take kids to the theater. Play games around the dinner table. Sing songs and play musical instruments.

H. Have a super school year! Follow these suggestions to get every student in your household off to a successful school year. Good luck and happy learning!

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