Spring is the air, which means the SATs and ACTs will soon be here. With that in mind, there is no better time than the present to help prepare your child for academic success. In order to do well in school, he needs to develop a combination of skills.
Here are some tips to help your child get on the right track:
- Organization is one of the most important factors in academic success. Whether it’s keeping track of school books or remembering to bring home a lunch box, children need to be organized to succeed academically. For many kids, learning challenges are related to a lack of organization rather than intellectual ability. To help your child stay organized, try making a checklist of things your child needs for school every day and post it by the door. Help your child develop a system to keep track of his homework and how he organizes his notebooks. Shop with your child for tools that will help him stay organized such as binders and folders.
- Time management is essential to doing well in school. Learning to schedule enough time to compete an assignment may be hard for your child. Even when kids have a week to do an assignment, they often leave it to the last minute. Learning to manage time takes practice. Try tracking assignments on a monthly calendar. Help your child record how much time she spends on homework each week so she can figure out how to divide this time into manageable pieces. Designate a time for nightly homework and help your child stick to this schedule.
- Also, make sure your child is completing each homework assignment thoroughly. For example, when it comes to math homework, make sure she is reading the text in the textbook and the explanations for the problems, not just rushing through the problems themselves. Often, any question the student may have is answered in the text.
- Prioritization is the next step in academic success. Sometimes children fall behind in school and fail to hand in assignments because they simply don't know where to begin. Prioritizing tasks is a skill your child will need throughout life, so it's never too soon to get started. Have your child write down all the things he needs to do, then have him label each task from 1 to 3, with 1 being most important. Ask about each task and help your child change some labels to better prioritize for academic success. Then have him rewrite the list so that all the 1s are at the top.
- Concentration is also vital to academic achievement. Whether your child is practicing her second-grade spelling words or studying for a trigonometry test, it's important that she works on schoolwork in an area with limited distractions and interruptions. To limit temptation, turn off access to email and games when your child works on the computer. Declare the phone and TV off-limits during homework time. Make sure your child has enough space and light for the assignment she is working on. Separate your child from siblings if needed.
- The last component of academic success is motivation. Most children say they want to do well in school, yet many still fail to complete the level of work necessary to succeed academically. The reason is often motivation. Tapping into your child's interests is a great way to get him geared to do well in school. Link school lessons to your child's life. If he's learning percentages, ask him to figure out the price of a discounted item next time you shop. Give your child control and choices when possible, such as letting him determine study hours. Encourage your child to share his expertise. Regularly ask him about what he's learning in school. Finally, congratulate your child, encourage him and celebrate all his successes.
Remember, when it comes to helping your child develop these skills, consistency is key, so try to practice each one every day. Whether your child is excelling or falling behind in the classroom, you may want to consider tutoring or test preparation classes. If your child is struggling, tutoring can offer him the extra attention he needs to fully understand the subject and succeed academically. Likewise, if your child is ahead of the class in a subject, tutoring or test prep can help him from getting bored and motivate him to reach even higher.