Help your child learn to love school

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Regardless of your economic, racial, educational, or cultural background, when you use your powerful influence to get your child looking forward to and enjoying school, you are giving him a key to lifetime success. Your child will be an eager learner when you value education.

Remember, the teacher has your child for just under a year--you have your child for the full marathon of schooling. You've invested in your child so far; now practice these ways to build a successful academic experience right from the start.

• Establish "school" bedtimes and morning routines. A well-rested child will be less distracted and better prepared to handle the rigors of the classroom, and will learn more. Morning routines give a child security because he feels his world is organized.

• Make breakfast matter. "Consumption of this morning meal is one of the most important things a child does all day," says Erica Lesperance, a registered dietitian specially trained in pediatric nutrition. More than 30 years of research proves "a healthy breakfast positively impacts brain function and energy level, which is extremely important for school-aged children." In a 1998 Harvard/Kellogg School Breakfast Program study, kids who ate a morning meal earned higher math grades than those who skipped breakfast. Whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal and bran are best for breakfast.

Go to the school's open house and parent/teacher meetings. It's during these times that you can view your child's work and school exhibits, but most important, have a say in your child's learning goals.

Say encouraging statements to your child such as, "I'm glad you listen to your teacher," or "I'm proud you completed that homework assignment." Your statements

can be prophetic.

Get your child's hearing checked. Hearing loss is common in kids and makes it difficult for them to understand classroom instructions or learn pronunciations.

Plan constructive use of after-school time. Children need some down time to relax after school; however, research indicates that children who watch TV more than 10 hours per week are at greater risk of school failure. The humorist Groucho Marx quipped, "I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book."

Buy an inexpensive chalkboard for your child's bedroom. Write his plans, goals, or assignment for the next day and check off each when finished. The visual reminder can motivate your child to stay on task and complete more.

Praise progress not perfection. Too many parents nitpick or nag their child for not achieving flawless schoolwork. Children get excited about improving when parents applaud small accomplishments.

Together with your child, create thank-you notes or gifts for the teacher. My Favorite Teachers coupons, a $5.95 softcover book of quotes and special coupons for children to give teachers, is available at bookstores and online. You also can bake bread or cookies or make decorative soaps as a gift. One of my fond memories is when my sibling and I would gather in the kitchen with Mom to decorate soap at Christmastime. We'd cut a pretty picture from magazines and glue it onto a bar of soap Mom bought just for gift-giving. Then we'd dip it ever so gently in melted paraffin wax just to coat the picture. This made the soap useful while protecting the picture. We would package two bars of soap together in a gift box to present to our teacher. By doing this, we learned to appreciate those who taught us in the classroom. I wonder if that is why I'm an educator today.

Decorate your child's room with a map. Maps make inexpensive wall adornments and naturally and comfortably teach geography.

Show confidence in your child's capability in any subject. Your attitude sends a powerful and prophetic message to your child.

Excerpted with permission from The Birth to Five Book: Confident Childrearing Right from the Start by Brenda Nixon (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2009).