I wanted to send out a warm thank all who attended conferences last week. It was humbling to see how much you support your children, your teachers, and your school community. We truly are partners in this journey. After spending so much quality time with you, I thought I would share some recurring ideas that were discussed on Wednesday and Thursday.
- Organization is crucially important to your child's success, and lockers are one place where things can quickly get out of hand. Encourage your child to take advantage of the shelves in his or her locker. The top shelf could hold all the materials for the morning, the bottom, the afternoon. This only works if things are put back the same way they came out.
- Developing good habits take a long time, but pay off in big dividends. Students should write their homework in their assignment notebooks (or on their iPad) everyday, in every class. But that's not good enough. Those assignment notebooks need to make another appearance at the locker as bags are getting packed, and yet another one at home to confirm what needs to be done.
- Without a regular time and place for studying, kids will struggle to complete work thoughtfully and in a timely fashion. Doing homework in a noisy kitchen is distracting, but alone in a bedroom may not be much better. Likewise, the quality of work suffers if it is done at the end of the night when kids are tired. Determining a spot conducive to distraction-free studying, as well as setting a reasonable time, will help kids retain what they are learning. Finally, there needs to be a limit. Working on homework from 4:00pm - 10:00pm is unhealthy and unnecessary.
- At USM we encourage students to reach their potentials and do their best. I understand that eleven- and twelve-year-olds cannot perform at 100% every single day - I know I can't. At the same time, I want kids to be honest (one of the tenets of our Common Trust) with themselves. Before submitting an assignment, they should self-reflect. Is this my best work? If, not, why? Getting into the habit of self-critique helps students become more independent and develops metacognitive skills.
- It's no secret that many adolescents struggle with time management as well as prioritizing. You can help your kids by encouraging them to look at the scope of their assignments. When is the work due? If there is a science test tomorrow and an English project due next month, kids often need explicit instruction as to which should be dealt with first. In regards to the long-term project, how can it be broken down and spread out into reasonable chunks so that there isn't a last minute rush? Extra credit can also cause trouble. Sometimes it appears to be more fun and as a result displaces those required assignments from other classes that need to be done first.
- Lastly, make sure that your children have time to play. Let's not forget that they are kids. Giving them a break from sports, lessons, and homework is emotionally healthy and can reduce stress.
I'm interested in knowing what you think. Do you have another idea? Is there something that I missed? Feel free to share.