Sharpen your pencils, it’s time to hit the books


BookbagThe uniform is on, lunch is packed, the backpack is full and the carpool lane is moving. Whether they’re happy about it or not, it’s time for kids to hit the books.
And now that school has officially begun, proud parents of first-time students may have some learning to do, too. It’s never too early to help a child develop good study habits, and Sandra Leatherwood, assistant to the superintendent of schools in the Diocese of Charleston, advises mom and dad to start now.
She taught for 20 years and nine of those were spent with first-graders.
“That’s the time they set the tone for the following 11 years of study,” she said. 
So she shared some simple advice on creating good students.
Make school a priority for the child.
“Sometimes kids get involved in sports or other activities and school is not a priority on their schedule,” she said. This is especially true for older kids. They have to juggle a lot of activities, but school shouldn’t suffer.
Make a connection with the school and your child’s teachers so you can work as partners.
“Communication is important, especially if you sense your child is having difficulty,” she said. “Contact the teacher so you can work together.”
Set aside a specific study time and stick to it.
“During first and third grade, children develop organization skills,” Leatherwood said. “If you have a test coming up, don’t wait until the last minute — pace yourself.”
Ask your child about school, but be specific.
“Ask them how they did on their test, but the key thing is to listen to your child and listen in between those pauses,” Leatherwood said. “They might not come out and tell you if they are having a problem so you have to listen.”
Make homework fun.
“Make it an activity,” Leatherwood advised. “If it’s math … make multiplication tables into a song. If they have to read a story, take turns reading a page, and they get to quiz you about a story and you get to quiz them. It shouldn’t be a punishment; it can be fun and rewarding. Kids and parents may have changed, but the expectations are the same, you just have to change the way you do it. We’ve gone from pencil and paper to the internet.”