School will be starting again, sooner than we realize, and regardless of the format it's going to take, the goal is for our children to get an education. Notice the expression: "get an education" not "wait for the teacher to give them an education."
Teachers often say they wish they could just use a funnel to pour learning into their students' heads. Having been my own children's teacher during homeschool, a fifth grade teacher in a classical Christian school, and a piano teacher, I can tell you from experience that the best learners are those who can listen and pay attention.
If you want your children to get the most they possibly can from school, not just this fall but from now on, make sure they have what it takes--use the next month and a half and the tips below to equip them to listen and pay attention.
First, ask yourself these questions:
Do my children listen and do as they are told?
Do I ever have to repeat myself to my children?
Do my children ever pretend they don't hear me/ignore me?
Do I ever have to yell and/or threaten to get my children to listen?
If your answer is "yes" to numbers 2, 3, and 4, you have some catching up to do, but it's not too late!
Start by taking your rightful position as the grown-up in the house--be the boss, the leader, "He/She who must be obeyed." You want your children to know without question that you are in charge.
Here's how you do it:
1. Remember the goal: it's for your child to be able to listen and pay attention.
Between now and the start of school, you are schooling them in listening to and paying attention to YOU.
Think of this goal before each day begins, and be consistent. Post reminders around the house. This will make school (and life!) go much more smoothly.
2. Speak with authority.
Before you give an instruction, make sure you have eye contact.
Turn your body fully toward your child.
Stand up (don't kneel down).
Calmly but firmly say what needs to be said, and nothing more.
3. Say it once.
Use the fewest words possible.
Don't offer an explanation, other than "Because I said so!"
Say, "Do you understand?", not "Okay?" -- don't wait for them to agree, but see if they can repeat the instruction.
4. Follow up.
Turn away, go about your business, and expect them to obey--don't stand there watching to see if they do, and don't threaten, or offer a reward.
Check in a few minutes to see if they did as they were told. If they did, say "Well done!" Don't say "Thank you"--they haven't done you a favor, they did what they were supposed to do.
Make sure there are consequences for disobedience, something that will make an impression by its unpleasantness; otherwise, they won't take you seriously. Write a few options and put them in a jar (the child draws one out) so you don't have to think of a consequence each time. It doesn't have to "fit the crime", and doesn't need to be the same (or different) consequence each time, there just needs be one consistently.
Four simple steps, but not necessarily easy--why? Because you're in the habit of not getting their attention before trying to tell them what to do, you try to explain too much, you don't speak with authority (you get down on their level and say things like. "Hey, buddy! How about putting your toys away? Okay?"), you repeat yourself until you finally get frustrated and raise your voice (yell)--I know all about it, because it's what I used to do. It's completely ineffective.
BUT you can change! And you have time before school starts.
Post those reminders around the house, visualize yourself in all the situations giving those authoritative instructions with a calm and steady demeanor, and imagine your child simply obeying. This actually happens in some households, and it can be the norm in yours!
If this seems impossible to you, call me! Hire me as a private coach, or ask to be included in a class so that you can learn more about how to do this. Don't let the discouragement of everything that's going on make you give up. You're not in this alone! We can do it together!