There is no doubt that the amount of support provided by parents for their children throughout the school year will have an effect on their academic success and progression. Whilst back to school prep can be a daunting time for students, there often also tends to be some worry and anxieties from parents at the start of each school year.
The back to school preparation period during the summer holidays can be extremely stressful, both financially and emotionally, if dealing with your children's own stresses. As the beginning of the new academic year unfolds, it is the perfect time to consider some important tips about creativity, productivity and well-being to help set your children up for the best possible chance of success.
The summer holidays may initially seem like a long break, but you quickly realise how soon the new school year sneaks up on you and how you must be prepared weeks before the school year begins.
Take a look at some of our top tips to help parents prepare for a successful school year.
1. Be present at school meetings and teacher-parent evenings
With statistics showing that children perform better in school when their parents have involvement in their academic lives, this tip could be the most important to ensure your child has a successful school year. Taking the opportunity to meet with your children's teachers for the upcoming school year is a great way to get to know their expectations and teaching style, so you can better understand how to encourage your child to work hard and achieve higher.
Parents evenings are held several times throughout the school year, the purpose of the meetings is to inform parents of their children's progress and to discuss any areas that require improvement. Attending these meetings aren’t usually made mandatory by the school, but they are absolutely pivotal in ensuring your children’s academic success because it enables the parent and the teacher to discuss a plan going forward to resolve any current issues.
If your child has special educational needs, or is particularly struggling, additional meetings can be scheduled with teachers and other school staff to consider setting up or revising a personalised academic schedule.
If you are concerned about your child's progress at any point in the school year it is important to keep in mind that you are able to request meetings with teachers, principals, school counsellors, or other school staff at any time during the school year.
2. Communication is key
A lot of issues can arise as a result of a lack of communication, this is why clear communication plays such an important part in achieving academic success. As a parent, you must ensure that you communicate properly and coherently with your children, with the school and with anyone else who is involved in the upbringing of your children.
Communication with your children
Create a safe space where you can have regular conversations with your children about how they are feeling, this will encourage them to open up about anything that is bothering them, whether it be school-related or not. If your child raises an issue, take the time to properly acknowledge their feelings, be empathetic and search for a solution together.
Empathy is such a powerful and comforting response as it lets the other person know that their feelings are validated. Validation helps to start the process of fully understanding their feelings and helping to provide resolutions to their problems. Having an open, honest and clear form of communication will enable parents to help their children to overcome any issues that may be acting as a barrier to their learning progress.
Communication with the school
As well as being present by attending school meetings and parents evenings, it is important for parents to have regular contact with their children's school teachers. If there are any concerns with your children’s progress, or if your circumstances at home have changed and you anticipate this may affect your child, it is good practice to let the school know so they can make a plan to intervene if and when necessary.
Maintaining a good rapport with the school will help you to understand the teaching styles that your children are experiencing so you can carry this on at home when helping your child with homework - this will inevitably help to boost your children's academic performance in the classroom.
3. Send your children to school prepared
There are numerous things you can do as parents to boost your child’s academic performance; an important one is ensuring that they are prepared for the school day and ready to learn.
Starting the day right with a nutritious breakfast is so important. Numerous research has proven that children who eat breakfast tend to be healthier overall, are more likely to participate in physical activities, and to maintain a healthy body weight. Children who eat a good breakfast before school tend to have better attention span, concentration levels and memory, all of which are significant for aiding learning in school.
A ‘good and nutritious’ breakfast that will have all of the right nutrients for boosting attention span and concentration levels will include foods rich in whole grains, fibre and protein such as porridge, low sugar cereals, yoghurt with fruit. For healthy breakfast ideas for kids see BBC Good Food.
Children who eat breakfast are generally less likely to be absent from school due to illness, and make fewer trips to the school nurse with stomach complaints related to hunger.
Every parent is constantly reminded of the importance of a consistent sleep schedule for their children’s emotional and physical growth, but it is also pivotal for children to have a solid sleep schedule to be alert and ready to process new information in the school day.
It’s recommended that school age children get between 10-12 hours of sleep a night, to achieve this, it will require a strict evening routine. As your children get older, more bedtime issues can arise, such as homework, after school clubs, TV programmes, video games, family schedules - all of which contribute to children not getting enough sleep.
The consequences of not getting enough sleep are not fun for the child or those around them, causing either irritability or hyperactivity - making them disruptive in class or unable to concentrate.
To encourage a consistent and solid sleep schedule ensure your children's bedtime routine leaves plenty of time before bed to unwind - this means limiting TV or video game use, swapping them for a bedtime book instead.
4. Teach them necessary skill sets at home
Teaching your children some necessary skill sets at home can help them to feel less overwhelmed when faced with a difficult challenge at school. Organisational skills, study skills and life skills will all come in handy at some point of your children's education.
Children are easily distracted, so when things are unorganised and messy they often get sidetracked. This can impact their school life if they are constantly distracted due to being unorganised, eventually affecting their academic performance.
Parents can help to minimise this distraction by encouraging and practising organisation skills at home. There are several ways to encourage organisation skills:
- Teach your children how to use a calendar or personal planner: Let them add their activities (after school club, hair cut, dentist appointment) to your home calendar, or create a calendar for just them to use.
- Teach your child how to create a to-do list to prioritise tasks: This can be as simple as ‘homework, after school football, dinner’ get into the habit of them writing it down and ticking it off when the task is complete.
- Encourage your child to keep their schoolwork organised into folders: Keep subject specific work in separate folders or use colour-coded paper so they know where to find each subject's work and can file away their work neatly.
To help keep your child on track with homework, we’ve created a FREE downloadable homework chart. Grab yours here.
Schools carry out regular tests and quizzes from a very young age to prepare them for their SATs, GCSEs and A-Levels, but the studying aspect of it is largely left to the children to do at home. This is why it is so important for parents to introduce study skills to their children early on to help them to develop good learning habits to take through their education.
To help your children prepare for any upcoming tests or exams, try to make note of when the test will be so you can work with your child to put together a revision timetable and to put together the right revision material.
Revision can be boring and sometimes a little daunting for some students who struggle to focus, this is where implementing study skills will be most effective. Here are some top tips to consider for studying:
- Pick a place that has limited distractions and work at a time of day where you aren’t rushed or going to be too tired.
- Study a little bit every day, rather than cramming everything into one evening the night before the test!
- Plan your time by distributing it amongst the different topics of subjects.
- Review and revise your own notes, reading and writing sometimes isn’t enough - re-read your own notes to learn the materials thoroughly.
- Take regular but short breaks, make sure you have enough food and water.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help - it’s all about learning, you’ll never know if you never ask.
- As mundane as some subjects may be, it’s important to try to stay motivated, whether it be that you play some music, work towards a reward, or have unlimited snacks!
- Break bigger tasks into smaller more manageable chunks so it is easier to comprehend.
- Complete as many mock/practice tests as possible to prepare for the real thing.
There's no denying that general life skills will come in very handy, so why not teach your children some of the most basic life skills from early on!
The following skills cover the generic life skills that we will be required to know at some point in our lives:
- Health and hygiene: This one comes as standard really considering we encourage children to wash their hands, brush their teeth and shower regularly on a day to day basis, but it is still an important one to explain to them, ensuring they know the importance of cleanliness and good hygiene.
- Time management: Teach your children the value of time, and how to manage their time to ensure they complete tasks on time. This will be a great skill to have for school and for future employment.
- Decision making: Being decisive is definitely a skill that can be difficult to master, and it really can be as simple as choosing chocolate or vanilla ice cream. Help your child through the many steps of decision-making by helping them to weigh up their options, evaluating the pros and cons, making a final decision and then evaluate what the consequences of their decision is.
- Money management: A lot of maths questions tend to involve money matters, so teaching your children the importance of money is extremely valuable for their education. Teach your children effective money management - discussing how to save, spend wisely, and make change. It's also important for them to understand that using cheques, credit cards, and cash apps is not ‘free’ money.
5. Take school policies seriously
When choosing your child's school, you are made aware of the school policies on uniform, attendance, behavioural expectations and so on. Parents must adhere to the school policies to ensure your child has the best chance of undisrupted education for the time they are there.
Schools have policies and procedures in place to support staff in managing situations that may arise, from health and welfare to behaviour and discrimination. When enrolling their children into school, parents should learn about the school policies to ensure they are able to consistently encourage positive behaviours in their children to stay in line with the schools values and principles.
It is also a good learning opportunity for parents to teach their children what is required of them both at home and at school, and that there are consequences for misbehaviour.
Schools are responsible for keeping your children safe during the school day which is why they need a robust set of rules and regulations that everyone adheres to. Below are some of the ways schools in the UK have authority to keep your children safe whilst delivering good quality education:
Controlling access to school premises
In order to maintain a safe and secure premises all school grounds are private, the school controls who is allowed in and when. Even parents and carers only have specified access at certain times of the day e.g. for school pick up and drop off.
Schools have a right to discipline students to ensure that every student is kept safe and their learning is not disrupted
Discipline comes in the form of verbal warnings, missing break, written tasks, detention or fixed-term exclusions. Under no circumstances will a school administer any physical punishments such as hitting, as this is illegal. Hitting or any other corporal punishment is illegal.
Schools can use reasonable force under special circumstances
If a school feels as though a child is a danger to themselves or others they may need to prevent or stop them from damaging themselves, property or someone else. Schools in England and Wales are allowed to take preventative measures to protect their students – including searching and screening pupils for dangerous or inappropriate items like drugs, alcohol, or weapons.
Schools can expel and exclude students
Students can be permanently excluded if they have gone against school rules and regulations after multiple warnings and chances.
6. Encourage after school activities
Research across the country has found that pupils who attend after school clubs are more likely to have improved their academic performance and social skills by the end of the school year than those who do not attend.
Enrolling your child in after school clubs might sound like an expensive option, but it doesn’t have to be. Here at Learning Cubs we run after school and weekend classes for our students from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom are eligible for either free or heavily subsidised fees.
Getting your children involved in after school clubs has so many benefits for their social, emotional and academic progression, it almost seems like a no brainer to get them involved! Here are some of the main benefits:
- A healthy way for children to relax and forget about any worries or stress
- Helps them to develop good teamwork skills
- An opportunity to learn lots of new life skills
- Different environments with new people will help them to develop socially and make new friends
- If doing sports they will get more exercise and burn off any excess energy
If you are interested in signing your child up for our Learning Cubs after school programme you can book an assessment.