17 ways to help your little ones do well in school

I was a public school teacher for eight years. Here’s what’s up.

At the beginning of every school year, involved moms and dads descend on stores to stock up on school supplies. Most have lists from their children’s schools and dutifully check off glue sticks, pens, and paper.

But some of what your kids need cannot be found in a store.  A parent’s participation is the most important tool so here is what you can do to ensure success in the first five grades of your children’s educational career – no matter what school they attend:

1. Plenty of sleep each night and a good breakfast before heading out the door.

2. A well-balanced lunch and canteen of water in every backpack.

3. At least three days a week where you don’t have to rush to piano, karate, chess, or Chinese lessons. Yes, the shrink’s appointment counts.

4. Throw away that life plan you mapped out for your first-grader. Let him daydream instead.

5. Eat dinner together every night.

6. Allow your little angel to struggle, fail, make mistakes, and fall down.

7. Always remember, it’s their assignment or project. Not yours.

8. Give your kid a reward, no matter how small, when they make good grades. A kiss is nice, but most prefer cash.

9. Stop looking for ways to complicate your life; no one needs a cell phone or iPod before middle school.

10. Teach your kids how to take no for an answer.

11. Calm down. Coming in second is good enough, as long as they do their best.

12. Get to know his or her teachers and work together. You are part of the same team.

13. Turn off the television and video games until the weekend.

14. Make sure your children play and exercise every day. Get them involved in sports. Awful hand/eye coordination? RUN.

15. Read a book together every night for at least ten minutes…before you start drinking.

16. Get to know their friends. The complicated issues students deal with every day, from elementary through high school, would land most adults in therapy. Children cannot handle it alone.

17. Take a deep breath and smile. Use humor to deal with the frustrations of youth and encourage within children the idea that nothing is insurmountable. They need to know that a loving family will cushion even the most devastating blows.

The above are essential items on every teacher’s wish list. Go shopping for papers and pens; dig deeper to stock up on the rest.