With the school year about to begin U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was interviewed by the Associated Press. In his comments he made the following statement:
"I always say parents are their children's first teachers, and I think, by definition, their most important teachers," Duncan said.
So how are parents supposed to get the school year off to a good start as their children’s primary teachers? The following ideas might help:
- Set a schedule for mealtimes and bedtimes and stick to it. Especially during the transition time from summer to school year. Children benefit greatly from routines and knowing what to expect.
- Discuss expectations: Have a conversation about schoolwork and homework. Let your children know that you expect them to do their best, and that they might not always love all of their teachers or assignments, but you expect them to always persevere. And that you will be available to help and support them.
- Build excitement for school by allowing them to participate in the choices of school supplies, backpacks, or other school related items.
- Edit your comments around them. Children who hear their parents complaining about the teacher they were assigned or students in their class will no doubt be complaining back to you about the very same things. Don’t share all of your feelings about the school experience with your children, and as the saying goes “little pictures have big ears”.
- Celebrate achievement. Let your children know how proud you are of them when they get up on time, get dressed and eat breakfast without delay, don’t fight with sibs in the morning, etc. A bit of praise on those banner days will cause them to repeat the good behavior and is much more effective than screaming at them on the days that everything goes awry.
By being mindful of the important role parents play in our children’s lives, we can lovingly support them in their new school year and help them enjoy the wonderful year to come.