3 ways to help set your children up for success

Consistency is key when it comes to forming good habits that will help your children succeed in school and in life. Establishing a reliable routine early on is vital, here are three ways you can help.

3 ways to help set your children up for success

1. Create an effective work space

You wouldn't do your work at the kitchen table, so why should your kids?

  • Set them up with a dedicated space to do their studying
  • You don't have to spend big bucks at high-end furniture or specialty stores. Pick up a desk and chairs secondhand, and the rest of the accoutrements at big-box discount and home improvement stores

2. Help your kid conquer tests

  • Make a test calendar. Every Monday, list all of the tests for the following week. Then with your child's help, develop a study schedule — including all reading assignments — so he's not freaking out the night before
  • Speaking of freaking out — don't do it in front of your kid. The cooler you stay about impending tests, the cooler she'll stay. Focus on the fact that it isn't the grade that's important, it's knowing she did her very best
  • Send your child to bed an hour early the night before the test. Sleep is one of the best tools available to consolidate learning and hard-wire it into memory
  • Fix a good breakfast the morning of the test — like whole-grain toast with cheese and a piece of fruit. The fibre in the fruit and bread, along with the protein and fat in the cheese, slows stomach emptying and helps maintain steady blood sugar levels
  • When your child brings the test home, go over it with him or her so you can both see what was done right and wrong. Then focus on those areas when it's time for the next test

3. Avoid extracurricular burnout

Some level of extra-curricular activity is good for kids, according to Vancouver parent educator Kathy Lynn. Children build skills and learn to be part of a team or group. In addition, studies indicate that, as they get older, children who remain involved in extracurricular activities are more likely to stay out of trouble. The problem: many kids burn out on extracurricular activities early on. Here's how to avoid that problem.

  • Before signing up, ask previous participants whether they got a chance to join in; whether the instructor was child friendly; and, the clincher, whether they would do it again
  • Nix the formal program and take kids skating, swimming or to church yourself. You may not be the world's best teacher, but at least you can give your child one-on-one attention and special time with you
  • Let your child enroll with a buddy. Learning is more fun in pairs
  • If constant interaction with other children, at school, daycare and after-school activities is getting to your child, hire an instructor to teach language or piano at your home instead
  • Attend children's performances of ballet, theatre, music or sports. Even if you don't inspire your kids to take lessons, you have exposed them to something worthwhile
  • Take a break. Some kids really don't want to hop into a cold pool in the dead of winter. So relax and sign them up again in spring

Grade one is the time to start setting the habits that will stay with your child through graduate school. From the moment your child walks in the door after school, have a routine in place that rarely, if ever, varies.

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