Believe or not the answer is not some new state-of-the art app. Nor is it extra tutoring or a new superfood. One of the easiest and best ways to maximise your child’s learning is to get them to school on time.
A study by Hammill Institute on Disabilities found that students who are often late to school miss out on important announcements, bonding activities, social interactions with other students and parts of lessons that may be tested on later in the term. On a wider scale, the whole class misses out when a late student disrupts the activity and learning of the classroom because they are late.
Most students rely on their parents or caregivers to get them to school on time and anyone with children will know that this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. It can be done but it begins with the parent. Here are five top tips guaranteed to have your child at school on time:
- Change parent bad habits first. If you routinely go to bed late and hit the snooze button one too many times the next morning, you will be on the back foot before it even reaches your bedroom slipper. Just as you set an alarm for morning wake up, set a mental alarm for bedtime and stick to it. Good habits begin with parents. There is no amount of coffee that will turn a sleep-deprived cranky parent into a calm adult who can graciously juggle the morning routine without snapping everyone heads off.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. It is good to be organised and go through a mental checklist the night before to ensure the uniforms are ready, lunch boxes washed and ready and school gear is in the bag. It’s a lot harder during the morning rush. Ask your children to do their own preparation before they go to bed. Setting out their shoes and making sure their lunch box is on the sink should be as much of their routine as cleaning their teeth. This also helps to ensure a smooth take-off to the day for your children, which is so important for a great day at school.
- Involve your children in the schedule. For younger children, good motivators are pictorial job boards and even older children respond to checklists, especially when a reward is involved. The best rewards are time together at a favourite beach or park rather than financial or food orientated. Talk with your children to work out the goals, what they can do for themselves now and how that will grow as they grow older.
- Use upbeat music. There’s nothing like a family favourite to have everyone moving to the beat and putting a smile on their face at the same time. It may be a little challenging to have music to suit teens and toddlers but this is just another opportunity for chatting to the kids, asking what their favourites are and taking it in turns. This might not be for everyone but if this tip appeals to you go for it!
- What if your child is a teenager? If you have been practicing points 1 to 4 while they were little then you are ahead of the rest. There is a great deal of evidence showing that teenagers need lots of sleep – ideally around nine hours a night. This is challenging during the senior years when there is a heavier assignment load, not to mention what’s on Netflix and who is on social media. Involve your teen in a discussion about what is reasonable but stick to the rules. Provide lots of encouragement for hard work and offer non-financial incentives like an extra driving lesson with mum or dad. If you still struggle to get your teen out of bed and school on time, you may want to explore other avenues like more discussion and perhaps even a trip to the doctor to rule out health issues.
- Take into account that a trip that would ordinarily take 10 minutes can take 30 between the hours of 8am to 8:30am. During school drop off time the roads become more congested and that congestion intensifies around schools. GCC is no exception to that rule. On rainy days it is even worse. The added congestion of the mornings will need to be accounted for in your routines.
At Glasshouse Christian College we realise that there are legitimate reasons why students are occasionally late and that is why we have late slips. If we can all work together at reducing these incidents when they are within our power, then we’ll be on our way to happy children ready to excel in education and life.
Mike Curtis, Principal