A School Success Checklist for October

By Dr. Rick Bavaria

Age Groups

Pilots famously have them. Surgeons do, too. So do engineers, technicians, nurses, and most other professionals and service providers. I’m talking about simple checklists – quick, simple lists of behaviors and duties that remind us of the basics and guide us toward success. If all those professionals find checklists helpful, why shouldn’t students and their families?

Here’s a checklist for October for you and your children to use to make sure you’re on the road to success so far this school year.

Goals. Are you sticking to the goals you made together? You know, a better algebra grade, improved organization, more efficient homework time, etc.

Help. Do they need extra help? It’s October, so you should know by now. If so, don’t put it off. A tutor, an Honor Society teen, or a study buddy can help.

Routines. Are you keeping to helpful and healthy routines? Routines make us feel safe and let us know what to expect. Does your family have regular routines, for example, for meals, homework, togetherness, and getting ready for bed?

Attitude. Are you staying positive? Staying positive is one of the most important supports adults can give to kids. Part of a parent’s job is to be cheerleader, supporter, motivator, and listener.

Classroom. Are they participating? Paying attention? Following directions? Ask about their classes. Don’t ask questions that can be answered with one word, or else that’s what you’ll get. Try instead saying, “Tell me what you did in reading class today.” Listen to their answers.

Exploration. Are they stretching their abilities? Encourage your child in an area of their interest. Inspire them to try out for a team, a school play, the fall concert, or other extracurricular activities.

Updates. Are they keeping you updated daily about their progress? Are you listening? Train them to expect a conversation about school each day. Try starting these conversations with questions like, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? Who’d you play with at recess? Who’s your favorite teacher so far? Why?”

Keep up these checklists for the rest of the school year. That way you can keep tabs on your kids’ school lives and their progress. Some of the items will be constants – staying positive, for instance – while others will be date-specific, like winter holiday ideas and test prep suggestions.