Teaching kids to be responsible in the classroom

10 tips to make children accountable for their academics
August 6, 2012 8:15:53 AM PDT
We want our kids to think, to make good decisions, to live up to their agreements, to behave, and to become independent. We know that responsible kids are successful kids. And we know that to start teaching responsibility early is to increase our chances of success.As we make sure our kids are learning responsibility at home, we want to make sure they're also learning the same lessons at the place where they spend a significant amount of time -- at school. They may not be in your presence at school, but they're surely still under your influence.

Here are some school-related words of advice from Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D. and senior vice president for education outreach for Sylvan Learning that you can gently emphasize when you talk to your kids about acting responsibly at school.

  1. Pay attention. Paying attention can eliminate rough spots and ease the way just about anywhere in life, but especially in school. Teach kids the importance of paying attention to teachers, classmates, coaches, and other presenters of information. Show them how much time they can save and headaches they can avoid if they just pay attention in the first place.

  2. Rely on yourself. Kids always need adults to lead the way, but we want them to learn to rely on themselves, too. Teach them to do their work, to review their math facts, to practice their spelling words, to drill their sports skills, and to rehearse their music lessons on their own, without the reminders ? or nagging ? of you or their teachers.

  3. Listen. Learning to listen critically is an essential skill for kids, one that will serve them well later in life. Make sure your kids listen actively, paying attention to the speaker's body language, repetition of major points, and organization of material. They'll have a much easier time learning.

  4. Participate. Kids who actively participate in class by asking questions, sharing insights, connecting ideas from one subject to another, and encouraging others to get in on the learning will have a deeper and more meaningful experience than kids who just sit there passively.

  5. Ask questions. Encourage kids to ask questions when they don't understand something. This is particularly important in "linear" subjects like math, where one skill builds upon another. Miss one skill, and later skills come crashing down. Teachers don't mind when kids ask questions. Really.

  6. Organize yourself. Kids need to know how to budget their time, keep a planner, take good notes, and review their work before turning it in. Keeping a family calendar with important assignment due-dates and events can help. Having surprise "notebook and backpack inspections" can show you're serious about their learning organization skills.

  7. Do your work on time. Nothing worse than putting off a major assignment, studying for a big test, or completing an important project until the last minute. When kids do this, they make themselves ? and everyone else in the family ? miserable. Plus, they jeopardize their grades and confidence. Why put yourself through it?

  8. Have a study buddy. I've written about this often because I've seen study buddies turn each other's academic lives around. Having a study buddy or group of study buddies can motivate, support, encourage, and challenge learners. No reason why studying can't be social, too.

  9. Avoid distractions. There's a lot of talk about multitasking, but I'm not convinced it's good -- or even possible -- for young learners. I've mentioned it before in prior blogs. When kids need to give their whole attention to their homework or science projects, they can't be productive when they're trying to do two or more things at once.

  10. Ask for help when you need it. There's something realistic and even brave about asking for help. Nothing to be ashamed of. Encourage your kids to ask for help if they're falling behind in a subject. A little "leg up" can make all the difference. The company I work for, Sylvan Learning, has a great record.