By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Parents and students all over the Tristate are beginning to wind down their summer and gear up for the start of school. Some students, like Sara Steinbeck of Anderson Township, have already ended their lazy days.
The Steinbecks (from left) Lindsey 13, who will be an 8th grader at Nagel Middle School, mom Sherry, and Sara, 15, who will be a sophomore at Anderson High School, sort through just-bought school supplies.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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"It seems like summer vacation gets shorter every year," Sara says. The 15-year-old sophomore admits this summer flew by for her and her 13-year-old sister Lindsey because of trips and summer camps.
After that whirlwind schedule, she fell into another. Sara recently traded in her 10 a.m. wake-up time to train for Anderson High's tennis team. She now hits the court at 8 a.m. She says the early start literally gets her into the swing of things.
"Otherwise, it is really hard to get up in the morning."
How can families ease the switch from leisure tans to lesson plans? And once school starts, how do you keep students' motivation level high enough to last through the year?
Denise Schubert, 45, of Milford, says she starts waking her 15-year-old son Craig at an earlier time at least two weeks before school starts.
"Instead of 11 or 12, I would start with 9 a.m. and work back," she says. (It) seemed to work. Of course, I also had to make sure he actually went to bed earlier."
Wendy Jordan-Cook of Silverton sees the need for motivation from both sides. She's a mom to Devin Smith, 9, and 7-year-old Sydney Smith and teaches health technology at Life Oaks Career Development campus in Milford.
"My greatest challenge is to get my children back on a routine," says Jordan-Cook, 39. "We have done summer school work, but they have been allowed to stay up late and watch TV."
"Because I'm an educator," she says, "I have to have a sense of order when school starts back. My workday can be draining and I have to be prepared to become a teacher as well as a mother when I get home."
The most important thing for parents to do is to keep up positive reinforcement, says Dr. Tom Connellan, author of Bringing Out the Best in Others (Bard Press; $19.99).
"If (parents) see them getting up earlier or saying positive things, say 'I see you're excited, getting your books together.' If you link it to something they already do, it will help improve their interest in other activities like sports or playing the guitar. They will respond if they are under the impression that 'applying yourself' is important to you.
"It's the parents' and teachers' job to determine appropriate expectations for the student," says Connellan. "If they do fail, treat it as that and nothing more. So they flunked the test; it's not the end of the world. If the child has 3 A's and one C, there are two things that parents could do. Either say, 'What is wrong with you?' or say, 'I see you got three A's and one C. Way to go! Now, what did you do in history that you could use to bring your English grade up?' "
Not pounding kids on things they did wrong in school helps them strengthen their belief they can do better, Connellan says.
He says the children who stretch the rules once school starts (like waking late) do so because "most parents don't stick to parameters. You have to say, 'If you're not there and you're late to school, you're grounded Friday night' and mean it. 'Miss it again, you're grounded Saturday night.' If they complain, say 'You're doing it to yourself. I can't make you get up. You are the one responsible. It's your choice.' "
Pam Green, 52, a reading and math teacher at Princeton Junior High, agrees. The Finneytown mother of two believes children model actions of their parents, even academically.
"If parents would take the time to read and have their children read at the same time and then share stories, this could foster a love of reading. Turn off the TV and read together. Make it a family affair. Then, when school returns, 'having' to read will not be quite so painful."
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