The skills children learn in elementary school build upon each other like the foundation of a house.
”The habits of the mind for a growing child —reading, writing, math, learning — all start from a young age, and there are several things parents can do at home to help in the scaffolding process,” said Pam Allyn, senior vice president of innovation and development for Scholastic Education.
This “scaffolding process” is “fast and deep,” she said.
“It’s really exciting to watch children, mine and others, learn. children are always growing and learning, and they are very aware they are learners,” Allyn said.
For little learners to build a solid academic foundation, families need to focus on some big concepts along the way.
Readiness to learn
Creating a healthy living routine can make sending a child to school ready to learn easier for busy caregivers, Allyn said.
“With a routine it becomes less of a task and more of a habit,” she said.
A nutritious breakfast fuels kids for the day and gives them the energy they need to do better in school.
Alert learners need a good night’s sleep. That’s between nine and 12 hours a night for ages 6 to 12, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Be sure to create a consistent bedtime routine on school nights.
“Wake up a couple minutes early to be ready or lay out clothes the night before,” Allyn said.
Take attendance seriously because attendance is deeply connected to engagement, she said.
Being a role model
Model and share lifelong learning, Allyn said. Allow your children to see you learning, whether that means trying a new recipe or mastering minor home repairs.
“It’s great to talk about ‘someday you could be a lawyer, a doctor or an educator,’ but it’s more exciting for children to see you as a parent as a lifelong learner,” Allyn said.
In addition to creating a safe space for children to learn at home, parents should give kids access to a diversity of books and magazines so children can have an expansive view of themselves, Allyn said.
“Reading is opening a world of possibility not just of who you are today or what career is possible but also what kind of person you are going to be,” she said.
Sparking their curiosity
To open a world of possibilities, ask questions instead of making statements.
“Instead of saying, ‘Someday, you could be an engineer,’ create an inquiry. To ask a 7-year-old ‘What are your hopes and dreams?’ will spark some amazing conversation. We don’t give children enough chances to,” Allyn said.
Staying on track
Be sure to take time to talk to kids about what they are learning in school so they know that education is important to you, Allyn said.
Review results of state standardized tests to see if children are meeting or exceeding standards.
“The results shouldn’t be a surprise. If they are a concern, you should have a good line of communication with the teacher. Don’t ever be afraid of having a team approach, but start with the teacher,” she said.
Ask what you can be working on at home and the best ways to keep in touch, Allyn said.
Being a fan
“Have so much empathy for a child as a learner even when they stumble,” Allyn said. After a bad day or a poor grade, offer a warm embrace. Ask how you can help. Let them know you are their biggest fan.