When we are in the mountains on vacation, there is an amazing toy store. It is always so fun to go explore, and my boys save their money for months, looking forward to going. One year they bought a toy race car set. It had a race track with a groove down the middle of each lane. Once you learned how to keep your car in that groove, those little cars would fly around that track. The secret to winning was to get it properly in the groove at the start of the race and keep it there. If you were sloppy about getting your car in that groove, you didn’t make it around the first turn without flying off the track.
Back on track
The same is true for the start of a school year. The long summer sets too many students up to fall out of the groove… and it’s not easy to get back, especially with the last 16 months we’ve had.
Parents must take into account that their students have possibly fallen out of their academic groove. It seems like the first month of school is review to help them “get back on track academically. They just got out of the “school groove.”
As we end this long summer, on the top of a parent’s list needs to be getting off to a good start for this school year. It’s not just the teacher’s responsibility. As parents we must do more than get them their school supplies. We need to get them ready to succeed.
Consider individual needs
The race car set the kids played with had different cars. Some cars could stay in the groves when going around corners, but there were other cars that did better in the straight-aways. The same is true for our students. Your children are different, and you need to think about where they will need the most help when it comes to getting back into the school groove.
For some children getting out of the bed and getting rolling was a challenge last year. This can and should be conquered within the first few weeks. Otherwise you will spend an entire year with bad moods and arguments. The parent/child relationship will deteriorate early. Get a plan together to put the morning “get out of bed and get rolling” responsibility directly on the child’s shoulders. Establish a consequence (like going to bed early that night if they don’t get up) for not getting up and getting everything done that needs to be done. Get them into a “get up groove” at the beginning of the school year rather than battling the entire school year. You can even start this the week before school starts as a practice run before school.
Other students need help getting in the homework groove. Start them off with a designated homework time and a homework location. Be firm about it for a period of time. Then let them know as they succeed getting in the homework groove, without being reminded, they will be given more freedom to pick their own time and place. Once they are in the groove they will be permitted – even expected – to be totally responsible for their homework.
Unless this is your child’s first year of school, you have experience with what the difficulties have been in years past. Look back and think about where your students have fallen off the road in the past. As parents we ourselves need to be students of our student’s needs.
Using the race car analogy, the first week of school is like the start of the race. It’s easier to get the car in the groove at the beginning of the race than it is to get them back on the track later on in the school year. Wait until later on after the first interims and you’ll wish you had.
Do it now and you’ll be glad you did!
Visit parentingonpurpose.org for more advice from Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts.
For more articles by Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts, visit goodnewsfl.org/author/dr-bob-barnes-and-torrey-roberts/