The end of summer is quickly approaching, and the new school year is close at hand.
LSU AgCenter associate Cheri Gioe says getting back into the swing of school activities can be easy and just may be the key to a successful school year.
"Whether your child is starting kindergarten or senior year, it is important for you and your child to discuss what expectations you have for the school year," Gioe says.
"Expectations may focus on behavior, academic achievement or extracurricular activities – or they may focus on a combination of similar factors.
"The important thing to remember is that achieving a balance of work and play make for a well-rounded individual."
Gioe and other LSU AgCenter family life experts say it is important to establish a routine the entire family can follow.
"Communication is the key to ensuring that your routine works," Gioe says. "Posting a copy of the proposed routine before you start the new school year encourages everyone to follow it."
Of course, the routine may need to be changed slightly to accommodate any problems, the experts say, but your proposed routine should include such things as the wake-up time, bus schedule, chores, extra-curricular activities, homework time and bedtime. For younger children, a routine that is illustrated with pictures may work, while older children may need one typed out, Gioe says.
"Organization is key to a successful start," she says.
"Ensure that school supplies and uniforms are purchased and altered early. Also, make sure that you have the supplies needed for children to complete homework."
The experts say you should establish homework rules, such as no television until homework is completed, and set up a designated area where homework can be done with minimal distraction.
To assist everyone in staying on a routine and knowing what’s going on in the family, Gioe says to keep a family calendar that is posted where everyone sees it daily. "All family members are encouraged to post test dates, field trips, meetings, practices and so forth on the calendar," she says.
In addition, the LSU AgCenter expert says to ensure you communicate openly and frequently with your child about school.
"Children need to know that their success in school is part of a team effort that consists of them, you and their teacher," Gioe says. "An important part of communication is getting to know the school administration and being involved in the parent/teacher organization that the school sponsors.
"Parental involvement is an important predictor of academic success. As a parent, you might have a skill or some knowledge that you can offer to the school or your child’s class."
For more information on starting off the school year right or a variety of other issues related to family life, visit www.lsuagcenter.com or talk to an agent in your parish’s LSU AgCenter Extension office.
Gioe is involved in the LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program, which educates parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.