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Preparing your children for back-to-school

Published:Sunday | August 28, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Parents (left) well into back-to-school shopping while the booksellers look on.

The following is another in a series of parenting tips brought to you by The Sunday Gleaner in association with the National Parenting Support Commission.

As the summer holiday comes to an end, the groundwork should be on in earnest to prepare children for back-to-school. Apart from the usual shopping for uniforms, books and other school supplies, what else should parents do in preparing their children for back to school?

Director of communication and public relations at the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC), Mikhale Edwards, suggests that parents make resolutions geared at supporting their children ahead of the upcoming school year. Here are a few pointers that parents should consider as they commit to journeying with their child throughout the school year:

1. Take school home

Parental involvement is a critical component that helps children to achieve their potential. A parent who demonstrates interest in his or her child's learning is indicating that he or she values his or her child's education. Therefore, parents should make a conscious effort to reinforce at home what is taught at school. This involves ensuring that all take-home projects and homework assignments are completed properly and on time. It may also include administering pop quizzes at home based on your child's school curriculum.

2. Stay connected

Parenting a child throughout the adolescent years can be a difficult task. Your child may be at that stage where he or she wishes to be treated as an adult. Parents may find that their teenage child has grown emotionally distant from them, and is often rebellious and moody.

It is important that parents increase their conversation and engagement with their child in order to nurture the relationship.

As your child begins a new school year, parents should commit to listening more. Listen to your child's curiosities, fears and suspicions. Begin to foster a relationship of mutual respect.

Also, remain hopeful of your child's capabilities and support his or her sense of constructive fun and play.

3. Emphasise the value of extracurricular activities

Nothing is further from the truth that extracurricular activities promote a child wasting time. Encourage your child to pursue goals that will develop his or her gifts and talents.

Children who engage in such activities are likely to develop increased self-esteem and motivation. The value of teamwork is also taught through this positive form of interaction which will aid in children's marketability once they enter the work world.

4. Add structure

Structure forms an important element of effective parenting. A child who appreciates the value of time management and orderliness can speed through routine tasks. Isn't it a wonderful feeling when everything has its place, so you don't have to spend time searching for things?

For a child, knowing what time to get up each morning for school, and at what time he or she is expected to complete homework, adds tranquillity to his or her life.

By adding structure, parents are assisting their children to develop a routine for completing tasks. It also presents the added benefit of children using their spare time to engage in fun activities.

5. Take the time

Despite their own busy schedule, parents should be mindful of the needs of their children. Each child may respond differently to the requirements of performing well in school. Parents, take the time to hug, communicate and create dreams with your child. Children need the appropriate nurturing and empowerment in order to perform at their optimum and later develop into responsible adults.

While completing all back-to-school responsibilities, parents should bear in mind that they are their child's greatest support. Embracing such advice is likely to see your child registering long-term academic progress and a more positive attitude towards school.