One of the best ways to support a student throughout a busy school year is to set realistic goals. If the chaos of the first couple of months caught you off guard, it’s not too late to provide a plan for success.
+Discuss and develop a set of realistic and achievable goals for the rest of the school year, and review them periodically. It is important that students play a role. Set minimum expectations, based on your child’s age, then work together to identify no more than one or two areas for focused growth. These goals can include academic, social or organizational skills. Using a student planner, whether in app or printed form, might help students track goals and milestones, and reflect upon their growth.
+Provide opportunities for extracurricular activities. Look at your child’s schedule and consider the different types of activities in which he or she is participating. For younger children, it is helpful to provide exposure to music or dance lessons, sporting activities or other group activities. For older elementary and middle school students, this could mean artistic endeavors—think theater or creative writing—or a new sport or service project with the school, church or other community group. These activities can encourage your child to take risks and to experience success and failure.
+Make room for unstructured free time.Although it is important to expose students to a variety of activities, ensure that he or she has an opportunity to have down time and rest as well. Go on a bike ride, read a book, take a nap, play with the dog or bake a batch of cookies. Learning to occupy unstructured time with worthwhile activities is an important part of development.
+Recognize your changing role as your child ages. The role of a child is to move from dependency to independence. To develop responsibility, a child needs to move from being outwardly motivated to inwardly motivated. Adjust your level of involvement in your student’s day-to-day life and education.
+Teach your child to self-advocate, rather than make requests on his or her behalf. First, talk with your child to identify his or her needs. Then, role-play the conversation he or she might have with a teacher, highlighting the need(s) you have identified. Afterwards, discuss with your child how it went and offer suggestions, if needed. The first few times, you might also wish to let the teacher know of the upcoming conversation by voicemail or email.
-Jessica Elbing is the campus director at Brightmont Academy in Plymouth, a private school that specializes in providing one-to-one instruction for each student.