We know that as parents you feel tremendous pressure to ensure that your children succeed in school. There is research that shows how important every level of your child’s education is and how success even in the early years of elementary school can make a difference in how your child performs for years to come. But the great news is, you don’t have to be a parenting expert or a professional teacher to help your children thrive in first grade.
What is most impactful about early elementary school is learning the foundational principles upon which your child’s future education will rest. This means that, as parents, the more you lean into guiding your first-grade student through these basic principles the better you are setting them up for future success. Sounds easy enough, right?
So, as you ponder over what you can do to support your child’s elementary school education, consider these simple yet effective tools. And remember that there is no perfect way to do this, and your child’s future will still be sound even if they’re not top of their first-grade class.
1. Encourage A Love Of Reading
The ability to read is one of the most powerful skills we can offer to our children. Consider the number of times in a day that you read. We’re reading constantly. Beyond the benefits of diving into a great novel and transporting yourself with your imagination into a new story, reading has immense other benefits. From expanding your vocabulary and improving brain connectivity to reducing stress, reading has so many benefits. Some people take to reading naturally, but others struggle with it or simply don’t enjoy it. But most people can learn to love reading once they’ve developed the skill and have invested a good amount of time practicing it. As parents, teaching your children to love reading is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. A great way to encourage your elementary school student to read is to schedule time in their day when the technology turns off, toys are put away, and you sit down together and read a book. Many families do this right before bed, but you can choose to implement this habit with your first grader at any point.
2. Make Math Part Of Everyday Life
Another academic skill that your children will use every day of their lives is math. They may never work in jobs where they’re required to solve advanced calculus problems, but they will have to calculate discounts and tips and measure ingredients in the kitchen. Math has gotten a bad reputation in our culture which is a shame because it is central to our lives. If you want to help your children cultivate a love (or at the very least an appreciation) for math, elementary school is a great time to start. To make math fun, find math games that the whole family can enjoy. Or involve your children in basic household tasks like cooking or building that enable them to see math in the natural world.
3. Practice Listening Skills
Beyond the very practical academic skills like reading and mathematics, early elementary school is the ideal environment for children to learn social skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Learning how to listen and pay attention is one of those skills. As parents, you know better than anyone how frustrating it is when your child doesn’t pay attention at home. Imagine you had 25 children in your home at once and had to teach them something! In first grade, your child is still learning the skill of directing their attention to their teacher, and there are things you can do at home to help them succeed. The ability to pay attention is as much a habit as anything else. By teaching your first grader to listen and pay attention at home you’re helping them get more out of their school day. And we promise, your children’s teachers will be grateful!
4. Encourage Responsibility And Independence
When your children are young, it’s often difficult to determine when it’s safe to provide them with more independence. Sometimes it just feels easiest to do things for our children, rather than risking them doing things that may hurt or frustrate them. But, the more we compensate for them, the less confident they are in their ability to do things on their own. First grade is a great time to start encouraging them to take responsibility for certain parts of their lives. Outside of household responsibilities, schoolwork is a great place to start giving your children some autonomy and independence. If you think your first grader is mature enough to handle it, start by encouraging them to manage their school work on their own. You may be surprised how independent they already are.
Our teachers at St. Barnabas Episcopal School are passionate about providing your children with top-notch elementary school education. When students come in prepared it makes their jobs that much easier. You want the best for your kids, and when it comes to giving them quality education, many of those skills start at home. If you’re already a St. Barnabas parent and have specific questions about your child’s education, our team of educators is happy to help. If you’re interested in enrolling your child in our first-grade program, contact us today.