An A+ Education Starts At Home
The A+ Education Question
Three of our six kids start school tomorrow, and today in orientation I was asked today 'Where does an A+ Education begin?' The answers that came to mind might be similar to those that would cross your mind if someone posed the question to you. Personally words like 'Private School', 'Charter School', 'Ivy League School', 'Prinston', 'MIT', 'Harvard', and 'Stanford' came to mind. For me at least, that is the correlation I make when I think of a top-notch education. However I was wrong, an A+ Education begins at home! It's so obvious, an A+ Education does start at home. Being a Real Estate Professional and being in amazing people's homes almost every day, I must admit that I thought I should have thought of that answer myself, I mean the Administrator obviously knew what he was doing when they asked ME (and not someone else in the room) that question, thinking I would be the most likely one to come up with the right answer in front of all the other parents and students, but my thought processes didn't make the grade. No pun intended. After all the pomp and circumstance had come and gone I met with the Principle and probed for more insight and I just wanted to pass along what was shared with me. My hope is that in so doing it becomes useful to the point of becoming beneficial for your kids as well as mine. The answers I gathered were all simple, really, but in today's 'hustle and bustle' world which we all live in I imagine I am not the only one who has overlooked the obvious.
An A+ Education Starts At Home
Evidently the simplicity of it all begins with a 'homework zone' if you will will. Research shows that this dedicated space will help your kids to complete their take home assignments more efficiently than when camped out on the floor in front of the television, or other areas of high traffic distraction in the home. No matter the available space, or budget limitations, any devoted space ear marked by the family for scholastics is drastically better than not having a space in the home so dubbed. So it's easy to see that it all starts with how we perceive our given environment. It is not so much a matter of whether the space has the title of den, spare bedroom, kitchen nook, or desk in the hallway, the old adage from Field of Dreams with a twist will come to pass 'If you build it the grades will come.'
Location, Location, Location
Considering your children's ages can be crucial according to the U.S. Department of Education as they recommend (no surprises here) a quiet, well-lit place that is fully equipped with all the necessary supplies for your children's grade level. For instance, younger children who need homework help may benefit from working in the kitchen where supervision can readily be provided. If this happens to work for you, rolling out a supply cart can be the veritable 'ringing of the bell' that its homework time, as apposed to any other time.
Library Quiet When Homework Is In Session
Older children can benefit from privacy. If your kids are on the older end of the spectrum creating a space in their bedrooms, or in the dining room, anywhere they can be alloted some isolation from distractions. A good rule of thumb is to institute a 'household quiet time' while Homework is in Session.
The Homework Period
It generally accepted and widely recommended that a consistent study routine with somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 minutes downtime before kicking off study time is best. 'Use a power period of 45 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break time to promote productivity and efficiency. Create a work-flow process with your kids and it will make all the difference,' advises Ellen Delap of Professional-Organizer.com. Elizabeth Hagen, author of Organize with Confidence (and mom of five!), suggests supplying kids with a timer so they can learn to focus on their homework for an allotted period, and work toward finishing so that they can watch their favorite TV show or go play. For me personally when it comes to work, I have used a Pomodoro Timer on my Mac and iPhone/iPad that has made an amazing difference, and after today, my wife and I are planning on having our children use it as well.
Tech Savvy Learning
Schools use computers to facilitate the learning process and if at all possible we as parents should do the same. I am preaching to the choir here I know but when it comes to research the Internet can at times be almost indispensable. Ensuring that your children have access to a computer at home will enable them to hone their typing, as well as information retrieval skills, not to mention saving them, and possibly you a lot of time and frustration when it comes down to getting the the homework done.
I've Got My Eyes On Your Screen
With the foregoing in place, it almost goes without saying, but I'll say it again and again like a broken record: COMPUTERS ALWAYS GO IN CENTRAL LOCATIONS OF THE HOME. Keeping your computer and your Web browsers of choice password-protected so that your children require your assistance for access is advisable at any age.
Supplies Are In The House
Sticky notes, index cards, or an array of highlighters might not be on your children's school recommended supply list, nevertheless they can be extremely useful when it comes to getting school work done at home. It can go a long way to just ask your kids what would help them study better and make sure they have access to what they need. If you check your school's website for supply lists etc you can stock up on the essentials when the back-to-school sales start. Evidently you can even get multiple discounts by shopping on state-tax holidays, during which some states lift taxes on selected school-related items. I wish Utah was one of the States that provided such benefits but check the Federation of Tax Administrators website for details as it might be benefit provided in the future.
Remember the Boy Scout Motto and Be Prepared
Ever found yourself having to make late-night (eleventh hour) runs to Walmart for projects that were out-of-sight out-of-mind for your children until the very last minute? Under-bed storage bins (designed to keep contents in pristine condition until needed) are heaven sent in such circumstances where items such as construction paper, dioramas, poster board, push pins, glitter glue and the like can be easily found. I think I will just take a permanent sharpie and write 'Pain Reliever' on the lid, because in the future, I can see such bins (stocked with supplies) helping my wife and I avoid many a sore headache. I'm sure you will be able to relate.
Homework On File
Overlooked by most families, definitely overlooked by ours, is the utilization of a small filing system for school memos and graded papers etc (which should be kept until the end of the year) as a remedy to the almost endless stack of papers which get dumped out of backpacks after walking through the door onto the kitchen table. Whether the final decision is a hanging file folder or an accordion style file this is one system that should not go by the wayside.
Here's To A Great New School Year
So there you have it... that is what I gleaned from the Principle today. I hope it is of benefit to your families in this, and or in coming school years to make your home a house of learning.
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An A+ Education Starts At Home
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