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By: Dr. Rick Bavaria

Nothing affects learning more than the environment. The most motivated students still face an uphill battle when their school classrooms (or classmates) are chaotic and undisciplined.

No classroom can (or should) be silent rows of children, learning in lockstep. Let’s be real! Even the best classrooms today look like beehives of activity where everything is geared toward learning. (Yepp!)

But for many students who spent the last year at a desk at home or at the kitchen table, knowing how to behave in class is especially tough. So many of our younger students have never had a real “normal” year (check out this eye-opening chart!).

How you can help your child be an attentive learner and well-behaved classmate

We know teachers are doing the best they can during the day, but as parents, we can help support schools by discussing and expecting kids to have rules of good behavior. They don’t need a long list. Over the years, I’ve discovered 4 mantras pretty much cover it:

  1. Be caring.
  2. Be accountable.
  3. Be responsible.
  4. Be respectful.

Those will help in all areas of life don’t you think?!

But for the school day, although your child’s teacher has already gone over what’s expected, here are some rules you can help reinforce at home with your child to make learning better for everyone:

1. Follow class procedures.

When kids walk safely and quietly in the halls, for example, they’re being responsible and respecting the learning going on in other classrooms. When teachers ask you to spread apart and keep your distance, they’re helping you all stay healthy. If you’re told to use your mask or watch your distance, you’re helping yourself, your family and entire community!

2. Stay in your seat.

Much classwork is done at your desk. Of course, if you’re working in a team or in some other group activity the teacher has organized, you’re free to move around. Otherwise, stay put.

3. Raise your hand to speak.

Raising your hand simply allows students to take turns speaking, sharing and discussing. Everyone gets a chance, just not all at once.

4. Keep your voice down.

No one can learn when there are too many distractions. It’s okay to work with others as long as one group’s excitement doesn’t keep the others from doing their work.

5. Pay attention.

Another responsible behavior. Amazing the number of problems that can be avoided if we just paid attention to begin with.

6. Help someone else.

What better way to show caring than helping someone who could benefit from your assistance? Kids love to share their knowledge with each other. Study buddies encourage each other to stay on track and prepare for quizzes. I tell students, never let a day go by without helping someone!

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