7 more habits to transform the school year

I’ve taken off work for the last two days of our kids’ summer vacation. Yesterday, after orientation for the new school year, the five of us grabbed sandwiches and talked about the upcoming school year.

In talking about how to tackle this new year, my wife and I encouraged them to ask questions. She even went as far as to say, “I’ll be prouder of you if you get a D and ask questions than if you get an A and don’t ask questions when you’re not sure what the teacher is talking about.”

I agree.

My kids? They weren’t so sure.

I don’t know if there’s anything that can transform an education more than learning how to ask questions in school. What a great habit!

Since I just wrote about 7 habits that could transform the school year and left this “ask questions” habit out, I felt it my duty to dispense 7 more habits (my original list had 15 so now I get to use a few more).

7 More Habits to Transform Your Child’s School Year

1. The Habit of Asking Questions
Some might call this “curiosity.” Asking questions includes curiosity, yes.

Possibly more important is the fact that asking questions in school – when the question might be deemed as ‘dumb’ by some kids – takes courage.

I heard an old Navy SEAL talk about going back to college so he could be an officer in the Navy. He said he’d sit way up front and raise his hand like a kindergartener the moment the professor was unclear. He didn’t care how dumb or how simple the question was, he would ask it.

Asking questions creates ownership over the education experience. The child learns when there’s that disparity about what she understands and what she needs to understand and she asks questions to bridge that gap. This skill is imperative even for adults in the workaday world, in home life, and in many other areas.

If the teacher is annoyed, that’s the teacher’s problem. The teacher can coach you to hold your questions for later, but you best still ask the questions! It’s a high quality habit!

2. The Habit of Respect
Respect as a habit is hard to nail down, but I think it’s vital. Learning how to respond to people in a respectful, honoring way, whether that person is a in authority or in the seat next to your student in 2nd period.

Often, if we can get our children to treat each other and us as parents with respect, then they’ll be ridiculously good at this at school. As I’ve heard said, “My kids’ friends treat me with the kind of respect I hear my children treat other parents with.” The easiest place for us to be jerks is in our own homes, so if we can learn to respond kindly and with humility to those we share a roof with, we’ll be ahead of the game out in the world.

3. The Habit of Batching
Now this one might be a stretch, but I think it can be great for students to learn early. Have your student batch activities by type and tackle them all at once. Whether it’s a set of chores or a certain type of studying or any other general activity.

For example, instead of flitting back and forth to email and to studying, encourage your child learn to dedicate a certain time period to respond to all online correspondence. At work, I’ll set a certain amount of time to file items in my online filing system. Otherwise, I might let the filing ooze into my dedicated project time. Task switching can cause procrastination and slow things down. Hunkering down for each type of task will help make your kiddo more efficient.

4. The Habits of Sleeping, Eating Well, and Exercise.
Speaking of batching, I decided to lump these physical health related habits all into one.

Each of these is a habit that is vital to your student’s success. Each one is a habit. We habitually exercise or don’t exercise. We habitually go to bed late or early. We habitually eat well or don’t eat well.

5. The Habit of Growth
Another somewhat mushy habit, ‘growth’ is the habit of putting ourselves in positions where we’ll be stretched.  Instead of always setting up their academic and extra-curricular situations in a way that they’ll skate by, our students should put themselves in a position to push themselves when they can, especially in subjects and activities that they love.

6. The Habit of Empathy
This one might be geared toward the older students, although we can work on instilling this from grade 1 on up. How can our students learn to see things from the point of view of others?

It’s a powerful, difficult skill. How to make it a habit? I’m open for suggestions. I shared my last post on habits on Snapchat and someone suggested empathy as a habit. I like it. I’m not sure how to help you figure out how to implement it, but it’s worth bringing up. Do with this as you will. (She also suggested ‘note taking’).

7. The Habit of Fun
I’ve been awfully heavy with these habits. One habit our kids MUST build into their lives is the habit of learning how to have fun. Before we know it, with all the worry about respect, and stretching and learning and so forth and so on, we can stress our little ones out. Our elementary, middle school, and high school students have enough to worry about.

We must teach them to not take themselves so seriously and enjoy themselves and their friends and even us, their parents. There’s a reason why animals of all species play when their young. That’s what they’re supposed to do. It’s one of the most important ways they learn.

Our children need to do the same thing. Let ’em play. Play with them.

What habits would you add? 

I’d love to hear from you. What would you add to this list? Hit reply or drop a comment and let me know.



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