School is obviously a place for learning, but the experience is so much more than just classes and books. Through school, children learn about how to become independent people, how to work with others, the importance of discipline and more. In many ways, school is what your child makes of it—and the more effort he or she puts in, the more equipped your child will be for college and life success.
Here are several ways your child can make the most of school and the overall experience:
Get to know teachers. It may sound obvious, but both you and your child should spend time getting to know his or her teachers. They are your first point of contact at school and the people to turn to when needing help or guidance. Reach out to these individuals early in the school year and stay in touch—and encourage your child to do the same. A positive, communicative relationship with your child’s teachers will provide your child with the support needed to learn effectively.
Take advantage of the wealth of resources available. When your child is young, make sure you are in contact with the appropriate school staff members who can help your child acquire needed skills and stay engaged in the classroom. These people might include the librarian, gifted/talented specialist or reading specialist. As your child grows older, encourage him or her to take the initiative to seek out help when needed. Your child should always talk to teachers when questions or problems arise, as they can work with your child individually and make sure his or her needs are being met.
Look for character-building opportunities. Getting involved at school will benefit your child in numerous ways. Extracurricular activities are not only a wonderful way for children to get to know other students and have fun, they promote leadership skills, build organizational and time management skills, teach collaboration with all different types of people and teach children to balance multiple responsibilities outside of school.
Seek out a mentor. When your child is in high school, encourage him or her to find a teacher or coach who can serve as an informal mentor. Mentors can play an important role in a student’s support system in high school and can serve as a sounding board and confidant. They can help students navigate challenges and set goals, push them to advocate for themselves, and even offer college and career advice.
Keep college and career top of mind. It is never too soon to start thinking about college—and your child’s primary and secondary school experiences lay the foundation for college and adulthood. Talk with your child about college from a young age and discuss different careers that might be of interest one day. Your child should talk with teachers and mentors about college and careers as well. Don’t forget to take advantage of any opportunities offered by your school or community for students to learn about college and the application process or explore careers.
A well-rounded school experience should include more than just the academics, so teach your child to make the most of school by utilizing resources available, seeking out help when needed, building relationships with teachers and others, and getting involved. As a bonus, you’ll find that by teaching your child to look for ways to enhance the school experience, you are encouraging independence, maturity, and self-advocacy. Teach your child today to make the most of school, and he or she will undoubtedly apply that same assiduous attitude in college and beyond.