As this school year comes to a close, I’m looking back on my high school Spanish classroom. This includes critical evaluation of my own teaching methods, character, and classroom management, as well as thinking about how my students performed.
As a mom, would you like to know what you can teach your children that will make their teachers smile every day? Here is a list of qualities I appreciate in students. You can tape the list to the fridge and work on it this summer. If you’re already teaching some of these habits, that’s wonderful.
Ten Summertime Habits
Teach your child to say thank you after anyone, such as a coach or dentist, has served him. I have several students (even those who don’t enjoy learning Spanish) who say, “Thank you,” as they leave my room every day. It encourages me to hear those words.
Insist that your child push in his chair as he leaves the table.
Require your child to do his chores until they are done well. For many of my Spanish assignments, I continue to correct and return the paper to a student until it has been completed to perfection. Don’t be afraid to ask your child to re-do a chore a few times, until it has been done well. (Although take care not to become a heartless perfectionist.)
When you ask your child to do a task, demand a cheerful work demeanor. Teach your child that demeanor is a choice and that he can choose grumpy or cheerful. He needs to know that his demeanor is seen by and has an effect on the people around him.
Encourage your child to advocate in his own best interest. Students often have to speak up for themselves in school. For example, sometimes I grade a paper wrong, and I need the student to feel confident to come ask me about it, so that I can make the correction. Or sometimes I contradict myself, and I appreciate students who will speak up. Make sure your child knows you are open to questions, respectful push-back, and reasonable argument.
Shine a good light on mundane work. We live in an entertain-me culture, but mundane tasks are a regular part of everyday life. Do not apologize for assigning a healthy amount of daily chores for your child to complete every day this summer.
Teach organization. My freshmen who come in with habits of organization do much better than those who often say, “I don’t know what I did with that paper.”
Celebrate work ethic over achievement. Not everyone is going to be a shining scholar, but everyone can be a hard worker.
Teach your child to be kind. Do not allow cold-hearted words like “shut up” or “you’re stupid." Do not allow mean looks or prideful, snotty tones. Kindness is a precious quality in my high school students.
Finally, speak often to your child of the love of Jesus. School is hard and often harsh. He needs to know that Jesus wants to be in his corner, to help him through any difficulty. Especially reinforce to your child that only Jesus can give him a true sense of value.
No matter the age of your child, you can begin to shape his character in a way that will help him become a valuable student. Perhaps focus on one quality every week over the summer.
A teacher will thank you.