Children who attend the same school, go to school regularly, and know how to follow rules and directions are very likely to achieve in school. It seems like a simple formula for success.

Children who attend the same school, go to school regularly, and know how to follow rules and directions are very likely to achieve in school. It seems like a simple formula for success.

The opposite also is true: the impacts of moving, absences and behavioral issues have a negative effect on learning. When you think about it, these three things all take time and continuity away from learning. But some families have to move, children do get sick and should not go to school, and some children need help learning to follow rules and directions. So what can parents do?

Moving
We all know that moving, even under the best conditions, is stressful. It's stressful for the adults in the family and stressful for the children. If a move involves changing neighborhoods and schools, there are new friends to meet, new teachers and new routines. There also is the feeling of loss of the familiar. Parents can help make this transition less daunting and minimize the impact by planning for it.

1. Talk to your kids as soon as the move is imminent. Listen to how they feel about moving and reassure them that they can stay in touch with old friends.

2. Tell your children's teachers about the impending move and set up a time when the kids can say goodbye to classmates and school staff.

3. Inform the building principal of the move and request that records be transferred to the new school.

4. Ask your children's current teachers to talk with the new teachers when you are settled.

5. Meet with the building principal at the new school and design an "entry plan" to help your kids settle into the new school smoothly and quickly.
6. Follow up with the children and with the new teachers after a few weeks to see how things are going.

Illness
Illness is the major reason most children miss school. Missing even a couple of days of school can put children behind their classmates. There are some things that parents can do, whether your child is facing a short- or long-term illness.

1. Ask to have your child's assignments sent home by e-mail or with a friend.

2. Work on the assignments with your child when he is feeling better to ensure a good understanding of the content.

3. Look for patterned illness. For example, do the illnesses occur every other Friday? This may signal something your child is trying to avoid. Follow up with the teacher in these cases to see what happens on Fridays.

4. If your child's illness is longterm, work with the school to get home instruction for your child.

Following rules and directions
Children learn to follow rules and directions at home. Some children are accustomed to following through immediately and others wait until they are asked three or more times. Some children can follow multiple directions more easily than other children who need to have them broken down into a series of single directions.

Parents can help their children by setting a few rules at home and playing games that require following directions. If a child is having difficulty following school rules and teacher directions, here are some ideas to help.

1. Meet with the teacher to determine in what area your child is having difficulty.

2. Together, develop a plan for your child's behavior at school that you can reinforce at home. It's important for you to agree with the plan so you can support the teacher and your child.

3. If the behaviors do not improve or get worse over time, talk with your pediatrician. In some cases, children have difficulty hearing oral directions, particularly children prone to middle ear infections. An inability to follow written directions may be a signal of poor eyesight.
4. Continue to set expectations for following rules and directions at home.

Sometimes in life we can't prevent practical problems, like relocating due to financial or job concerns, or the illness of our children. But try to do whatever you can to make sure your child goes to school regularly, stays healthy, and knows how to follow rules. These are just a few educational secrets to success.