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Keep an Open Line of Communication
I will never forget, a few years ago, when my child came home from her first day with a letter from her teacher saying that we would be using an app to communicate with her. I panicked, I had just spent 3 months learning how to turn off the speaker phone function on my new smartphone. All joking aside, I was intimated. But this was something that changed the way I could communicate with my child's teacher. It took me a week or so to learn how to use the app. Once I did I was not only able to talk to my child's teacher almost instantly, but I was also in a forum with all of the other parents in her class. The teacher also frequently posted pictures and videos of the kids during school. For the first time ever I felt like I didn't have to dread the one-word answer to "how was school today?" because I knew.
Yes, I eventually had to learn how to turn off the notifications; because some parents felt the need to ask if anyone found little Johnny's mittens on the school bus… at midnight. But that immediate line of communication with not only her teacher, but the other children's parents. Really put me at ease and made me feel connected. Now not every teacher uses an app as a communication tool. But most teachers do email a weekly newsletter or progress report directly to parents. It's important to respond and establish that line of communication with your student's new teacher. I have also had a fellow parent start up a Facebook page for the parents of all the kids in the class. It was really easy to follow up on classroom events, get great pics of all the kids, and make connections with the other parents. So if you feel like your line of communication needs to be broadened suggest a social media page at your next curriculum night.
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Initiate Rituals Not Schedules
Before the eye rolling commences, I do know that everybody knows the old standby. Set a strict schedule, kids thrive on routine. Its true children do respond to repetition. But let's face it, keeping a tight schedule every day is impossible. And when it comes down to breaking plans or our changing the schedule. I am the usual suspect. Life happens, and I don't feel guilty when it does. So instead of everyday at 3:30 pm little Suzy must do her homework; I change it to a ritual. Suzy knows that as soon as she walks through the door, on days she has school, she must empty out her backpack.
Then show her mother any important papers and do her homework. It becomes her ritual. Even if she has no homework Suzy still has to empty her backpack and go through the ritual of being responsible. It literally works with any task without setting a time or certain schedule. The hardest part is consistent follow through on your part. Stick to your guns and eventually your little scholar will initiate their rituals completely on their own. That's what I call results!
Reward Kids with Experiences Not Things
As a previous student of psychology I utterly agree with positive reinforcement. Especially when it comes to children. So when little Bobby gets an A on that book report I think he deserves a reward.
But in a world where we have become almost obsessed with acquiring "stuff" and the "everybody wants more" mentality. I ask, "as a child what did I always look forward to the most?" "What do I remember most about my childhood?" and it wasn't that time I got 5 bucks for a good grade or even when I got the doll I absolutely had to have for Christmas. It was the great times I had with my friends and family that became my most cherished memories. So plan a special outing, let them have a sleep over, or get the whole family together to play their favorite sport. Give the gift of yourself and show them how spending time together is the best reward!
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