We are continuing with our “Back To School … For EVERYONE” series today with a guest post from Julia Cook, a former school counselor and teacher who evolved into an award-winning children’s author and parenting expert. Julia shares her top ten tips for parents and teachers to make the coming school year go smoothly.
Top 10 Tips for Parents and Teachers
1. Make Sure Your Directions Are Clear and Understood. Kids cannot stay on task if they do not understand what it is that they need to do. If you have your instructions written on the board, make sure that students make their own copy of the instructions for their desk. Also, make sure kids can tell you verbally what it is that you are asking them to do.
2. Make Assignments the Appropriate Length for the Time Allotted. Take frequently needed work breaks, and plan academic subjects in the morning. Limit screen time, and incorporate physical activity as much as you can throughout the day.
3. Have Supplies Needed Before Beginning. Make sure kids have everything they need in supplies at their desk before they begin an assignment so they don’t have to leave their seat and wander around collecting what they need. It helps if you can put all learning supplies in the same immediate area.
4. Not every child works at the same rate. Set up a jig-saw puzzle or other activity choice in the back of the room, so that kids can have something to do that is both quiet and cooperative if they finish their assignments early.
5. Make sure you wiggly kids have room to “move” during work time without distracting others. Let them fiddle with focus squishes, or even sit on yoga balls. If they become too distracting to other students set up a “VERB VILLA” in the back of you room. Remember: Working in the “VERB VILLA” is not a punishment, it is a learning opportunity.
6. Try strategically pairing kids up during work time. Sometimes it is easier to stay on task when you are working with another person. Kids can do wonders for each other through peer tutoring.
7. Tell kids what they “CAN” do and be as opposed to what they “CANNOT.” Remember… you always get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. Always offer more positive reinforcements than negative reinforcements. Instead of saying, “I hope you don’t have another day like yesterday,” say, “Today is a brand new day and I can’t wait to see what you are going to do with it!”
8. Set up a point reward system for staying on task and for finishing assignments. Remember…each child you teach has “What’s in it for me?” tattooed on their forehead. Most kids have to be extrinsically motivated before they can teach themselves to become intrinsically motivated.
9. Use a timer. Students who struggle with staying on task often also struggle when it comes to time management. Kids tend to work better if they know there is a set time limit put into place. Make sure you allow enough time when using a timer. If you don’t give kids a reasonable amount of time, they may choose not to try at all.
10. Walk around your classroom or home and monitor what is going on. If you are on task with what your students are doing, they will have an easier time staying on task too.
About Julia Cook
Julia has the innate ability to enter the world view of a child through storybooks, giving parents and educators the “what to say” and “how to say it to kids.” Her topics range from kidnap prevention to bullying to sharing and teamwork. She has 51 published books from the National Center for Youth Issues, Boys Town Press and the CDC. Julia has the ability to effectively translate important adult information into kid language. Cooks books have been referenced in such publications as Parents Magazine, The New Yorker, The Chicago Tribune, Yahoo.com, dr.laura.com and babyzone.com has. She has also been featured on CNNs HLN News, and several large metropolitan networks. For more information, go to www.juliacookonline..com.