Elementary school sets a foundation for your child: These years help determine how they will view academics for the rest of their lives. If you want your child to care about their education, you can start by getting them to love elementary school.
Believe it or not, loving school isn't about getting good grades; it's about appreciating the whole experience. Practice these easy tips for your child to be excited about going back to elementary school every day.
Open Up Conversation Around School
Communicating with your child about school allows them to reflect and process their day while looking forward to future school days. However, many a parent has received frustrating feedback with the tried and true "How was school today?" These types of questions can often result in a one word answer. If you're struggling to talk about school with your child, try these tips:
- Limit your screen time at home so that you can properly engage with your child. If you're making eye contact with your phone rather than your child, they're less likely to talk to you.
- Practice good listening skills. If you interrupt your child when they answer a question about their day, you're more likely to break down communication.
- Ask for more. If your child stops talking after a word or a sentence, saying something like, "I'd love to hear more about that," gives them the opportunity to share more about their day.
Encourage Quality Friendships Over Popularity
Elementary school is as much a social education as it is an academic one. Society and television—sometimes even parents—tell children that it's important to be popular. However, building quality friendships will lead to your child feeling more supported and happy than having lots of acquaintances.
Encourage your child to make time for school friends who treat them and others with kindness and respect. You can do this by talking to them about their friends, scheduling play dates, or showing them how to be a good friend. If your child has someone they look forward to seeing at school, they will be more excited about going to school altogether.
Get Your Child Involved in Extracurricular Activities
Going back to school isn't all about going to class. Extracurricular activities in elementary school allow your child to expand their sense of self and explore new interests with their peers outside the classroom. Consider these tips when choosing extracurriculars for your child:
- Give your child agency in what they choose to do outside of class. Since they don't have a choice in whether or not they attend school, extracurricular activities will build their sense of self-control, making them more confident at their elementary school.
- Don't pigeon-hole your child too quickly. Children change drastically from year to year, so they may want to shift their extracurriculars accordingly. If your child wants to explore a new hobby or skill that doesn't fit your idea of who they are or should be, that's okay. Allowing your child to try new things will lead them to form a more authentic sense of self.
- Consider adding an outside-of-school extracurricular to expose your child to new people and ideas. These additions can keep your child from getting bored with school by seeing the same people every day.
- Remember that elementary school extracurriculars are about exploring interests, not about being prodigies. It's okay if your child chooses an activity where they are not immediately successful. So long as they enjoy their time building a new skill, the extracurricular activity will make them more excited about going to school.
For the elementary school child, there's a fine line between stress and boredom. The debate around overscheduling is fraught, but one thing is certain: a stressed child won't love going to school. If you notice your child is stressed or dreading school, giving your child time to decompress may be the answer. Free time helps reduce stress on a day-to-day basis, giving your child the chance to look forward to going back to school.
Support Your Child's School
Getting involved in your child's school not only helps the institution; it also strengthens your bond with your child and your child's respect for their school. By showing them that their school is worthy of your time and efforts, they will be more invested in being a part of that community.