The recipe for academic success

16 October, 2017

If there were a miracle recipe for our children to do well in school and in their lives, we would all be takers. Ricardo has not yet created it and it may not be bought, but there are several ways that we, parents and educators, can put in place and implement to ensure that our offspring live success and to facilitate their academic journey. I suggest some ingredients to use... without moderation!

First ingredient: the book! A good dose of reading

Read, read and read again! Not only do I keep telling the parents of my students, but I can't help but subscribe my nieces and nephews to books and magazines, find the little literary gem that will make them crack and catch their attention. A "favourite" book often provokes an irresistible desire to discover the other books of the same author and this snowball effect is valuable when faced with small, more "resistant" readers. When I had my Henri, giving him a taste for reading was as important to me as all his small and large essential needs. Going to the library is a great ritual that costs nothing and allows you to discover a multitude of literary styles.

Books not only allow you to travel and escape cheaply (or for free); they allow adults and children to enrich their vocabulary by discovering new words. First, with the help of imagiers, and later through all kinds of literary genres all as different as each other: informative, humorous, historical, fantastic, tragic, dramatic, adventure and so on.

Enriching the baggage of words allows young and old to express themselves better, but also to better understand what surrounds them, to explain more easily and to share their ideas and knowledge more easily. It is more feasible for a child to express an opinion, ask for something or say what he likes or dislikes when he has a good lexical background, a range of known and assimilated words.

As a First-year teacher, when children come to write sentences, however simple, those with a broad vocabulary not only have an easier time writing and finding ideas, but they stand out happily! Their sentences are better formulated, longer and their words vary from one sentence to another.

Whether our budget is small or large, books remain accessible to all. And the good news is that there is no good or bad reading, in my humble opinion. Whether it's a comic book, a magazine or a light novel, the important thing is not to discover Balzac before the majority, but rather to have the literary sting. The one that will make us want to discover another book, another author, another illustrator or a new series. And then, who will complain about having a good time, glued to his offspring to carry him, the moment of a story?

It's a real joy for the ears when children start babbling, making new sounds and naming the things around them. Language development is sometimes underestimated for academic success. When I meet parents at the beginning of the year, I also provide some tips to them. I ask them, among other things, to pay particular attention to the way words are spoken, the wording of sentences and the vocabulary that can be enhanced by discussions on new topics or visits to a new environment. Small pronunciation errors are most commonly reflected in writing. (For example, I sometimes read "sateau" instead of "castle," "crop" instead of "too much.") They are also observable in the structure of sentences. I therefore invite you to pay special attention to the language of your marmalade.

If you notice small "verbal shells," you can simply repeat the word correctly with the correct pronunciation, emphasizing the exact way to say it and exaggerating the desired sound. Talking slowly also supports learning. You don't have to ask your child to say it again.  If your concerns persist, the help and advice of a speech therapist can help you better support your child.

In my class, when my students learn a new word (in books or during our exchanges), we record them and proudly display them on a large sheet that everyone sees. It may seem trite, but the children are proud to see the list grow and, for my part, I take the opportunity to do positive reinforcement when they use them. I will always remember my little Ameliane who was sweeping in the classroom and who exclaimed that a little corner had been "neglected"!

This question is often unanswered or unsatisfactory. Have you ever tried to ask it differently? Like, "What did you learn today? What did you remember? By directing our questions more about learning and understanding (and less about what he's done), not only is there a risk of knowing a little more, but your little one will realize "that he knows what he knows." This is called metacognition. Knowing what he knows will make it easier and easier for him to apply his knowledge in new everyday situations outside of school. For example, reading the time when he needs it, cooking a recipe with fractions (mathematics), explaining why the sun sets earlier (sciences), the origin of teepees (social universe) and so on. In educational jargon, this is called knowledge transfer, which is essential to learning.

(Let) simmer slowly...

We, parents, adults, chaperones, educators, play a significant role as role models for children. They observe us, watch us, copy us, repeat what we say and what we do, sometimes to our great happiness and other times... Not!

The more children hear about the good of school, the school environment, the more motivated and involved they will be in their academic journey. Having confidence in the school, in educators and in teachers will be systematically reflected in children's vision of their school environment. Constructive relationships, the involvement of parents in meetings, attendance at appointments are essential for children to experience great success. They feel that their journey is important and that school occupies a prominent place in their lives, that it is important. If there is a misunderstanding, worry, doubt, contact your child's teacher. It is together, in trust and collaboration, that we find the best ways to help the student.

To be willing to receive new learning and offer the best of themselves, children need two things: a good night's sleep and... a heart free of worries, light! Life is not a long quiet river and young and old live all kinds of things: loss of a loved one or a pet, separation, quarrel between brothers and sisters, anxiety or excitement for an upcoming event and so on. As a teacher, I always take a moment in the morning to chat with my students. This allows me to be aware of what they are going through and I can adapt my planning according to the concerns of some and be lenient if such has not succeeded as well his weekly dictation as usual.  A child who is not well in his head and heart will not be able to assimilate new learning, listen and perform to accomplish a job or a duty.  If the teacher is not comfortable discussing it with his teacher, there is nothing to prevent you from slipping a note into the messenger or writing an email to the teacher to inform her of the concerns that bother her.

Taking the time to chat with the children can therefore bring great good to their success.

An oral presentation tickles your Theo? Charles still got his feet in the dishes during recess? The English class creates ants in Alice's belly? Have you experienced horror in a public place? Much like preschool teachers, I invite you to establish clear ways of doing things, to be explicit in the desired behaviours in various situations. Whether it's in relation to school or in your daily activities with your marmalade, explain clearly what behaviours they want, how they should act or react, strategies or effective working methods for to be successful. It can also be an agreement with the teacher, a breathing technique, pictograms to guide and structure his work. And when an improvement occurs, congratulate him and encourage him to continue and show him that you are proud of him!

Finally, have realistic goals, even if you set the bar a little lower at the beginning in order to live any successes.

In closing, I suggest you take a look at the school contractLes Belles Combines! A great way to determine each other's roles to lead the child to academic success!