Mornings go more smoothly when children are eager to go to school. At the start of the school year, most kids are psyched to return to the routine of a classroom alongside their friends. However, keeping kids interested over the long haul can be challenging. As the weeks march on, new shoes lose their luster and backpacks begin to tear; kids can wear down, too. If your child’s interest in school begins to wane, you can follow these simple steps to rekindle the excitement.
Get involved—Demonstrate that school is important by attending back-to-school nights and other school-sponsored events. Even consider joining the PTA, volunteering to chaperone field trips or organizing a classroom party.
Stay engaged—Ask your child specific questions about the day, such as: “Tell me something new you learned today?” “What book are you reading in your reading group?” “Who did you sit with at lunch?” “What games did you play during P.E.?” Showing an interest in his day demonstrates that you value his education. It also keeps the lines of communication open.
Acknowledge effort and celebrate success—Look over all work that comes home during the week, then comment — positively — on what you see. Praise your child when she makes a good grade or shows extra effort on a project. When her efforts result in an exceptional success, feel free to reward her. For example, take her out for ice cream when her essay is published in the school newspaper. Just be careful not to over-reward; you don’t want her to come to expect material goods or celebrations for merely doing her best. The intrinsic value of her hard work and self-pride, combined with your own appreciation and encouragement, should be incentive enough in the long run.
Set a good example—Even if you’re feeling cranky, tired or reluctant about going to work, don’t let it show. Remain upbeat during breakfast by remembering your kids will take your cue on how to approach their day.
Help children stay organized—Be sure your child has a system in place for keeping track of homework deadlines. Assist him with establishing a routine for ensuring that homework and projects get done and turned into his teacher(s) on time. Set up a distraction-free study area and figure out the best time for him to do homework. Some prefer to come straight home from school and tackle it, while others need an hour of downtime before they focus on their studies.
Help your child become a joiner— Encouraging kids to be involved and engaged in the world around them increases confidence in their social skills, which can positively impact the school day. Extracurricular activities, such as soccer or swimming, provide a great outlet for kids who benefit from being active and part of a team. Be sure to check out which activities the school offers. If none appeals to your child, perhaps look into club sports or activities at private organization.
Encourage peer relationships—Encourage your child to invite a classmate over for a play date or family outing. Children who feel connected to their classmates feel more connected to their schools. If you have a shy child who has trouble making friends, talk with the teacher or school counselor. Many elementary counselors facilitate “friendship support groups” to help children connect with peers.
One final tip is to show your children that learning is lifelong by allowing them to see you continue to learn. Read books in front of your children, take a class or let them watch you learn a new skill. Your enthusiasm for learning demonstrates the importance of learning and may just encourage them to keep up with their studies – and like it!