Starting Strong in Elementary School: 3 Strategies for Dads

An elementary student sits on a bench against a wall and opens her orange backpack

Starting Strong in Elementary School: 3 Strategies for Dads

If your child is entering the public education system (maybe for the first time), you probably wondering how to make sure it’s a success. I understand, and I am in the same boat as a dad of a preschooler. I’ve done my share of research on making my son’s leap into elementary school go smoothly, and here’s three things I’ve learned:

Model Social Behaviors that You Want to See

This may seem obvious, but children with stronger social skills tend to be more successful in kindergarten and throughout their academic career. The Seattle-based nonprofit Committee for Children has a great YouTube video video explaining social-emotional learning in more detail.

There are several ways to increase your child’s social skills. One idea is to set up play dates with friends. This can provide them the opportunity to share, communicate and interact with others their age. Another idea is modeling these positive social behaviors yourself. I think every parent has had a moment where you did something in front of your child you regret—only to later have them happily mirror that same regrettable behavior later. Fortunately, your children can model positive social interactions as well! When they see you take turns, be respectful and helpful towards others, they are more likely to do these things as well.

Prioritize A Home Supportive of your Child’s Learning

Having a supportive home environment for learning can also help your little one have a successful start to the school year.  Making sure your kid has all of the necessary learning materials and resources is certainly important. Having a dedicated space for them to work on can help them concentrate on their work and retain the information better. Having a consistent routine as well, such as a certain time of day to work on homework, can help with consistency.

The most important aspect of a supportive home environment for your student, I would argue, is to be there to help your child with their schoolwork. Be sure to talk to your child’s teacher about what subjects your child is doing well at, and what subjects your child could use more support. These valuable insights can guide you in the most effective strategies to help your child.

LEARN MORE: E465 | A Father’s Role in his Children’s Educations

Strive for a Balanced Diet

Providing a nutritious diet can greatly affect your child’s academic performance in kindergarten. I won’t go into too much detail about what a healthy diet for your child might look like. In general, more fruits and vegetables, less added sugars, more whole grains and a variety of different protein sources will make a child’s (and your) diet better.

As a nutritionist, one of my favorite resources for a healthy diet is My Plate. A healthy diet can keep your youngster’s energy stable throughout the day and make it easier for them to focus (as easy as this ever is for a 5-year-old).

Refined carbs and simple sugars especially can cause blood sugar peaks and crashes, which can leave kids feeling tired and make it harder to concentrate. Additionally, a diet high in omega 3,6 and 9 fatty acids are important in brain development, which can improve memory and problem solving. A good diet is a wonderful foundation for your little one’s academic career!

WIC (Women, Infants and Children) may also be helpful when it comes to building healthy eating habits for yourself and your family. If you live in Missouri and meet income guidelines, WIC services can help. Even though the name is WIC, we can be helpful to dads, too. For more information about the WIC program,  visit For questions about WIC, you can call 417-864-1540 or text 888-754-0693 These are just a few ways you can help get your child off to a great start in their young, academic career. For more reading, I recommend’s great article that covers things you can do between now and the start of kindergarten to get your kid more prepared. If you can do these things, I’m sure your kiddo will be off to a great start in kindergarten! See you in school in the fall!

About the Author

Tommy Boyce has been a Women, Infants and Children nutritionist across the state of Missouri and has been with the Springfield-Greene County WIC office for eight years. Tommy graduated from UCM with a degree in dietetics and Logan University with a Masters in Sports Nutrition. He has been married to his wife, Cassandra, for 10 years, and together they have a wonderful 5-year-old boy named Sullivan. Tommy enjoys exercising, anything related to Star Wars and is a die-hard Chiefs fan!

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