Studio 5 Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Liz Hale, shares how a parent’s behavior makes all the difference when it comes to kids “making the grade.”
As we prepare backpacks with notebooks, paper, pencils, and markers, experts remind us to prepare our children emotionally for back-to-school success, as well.
The research shows that as parents spend time with their children, encouraging them to do their best, these children are more likely to achieve. The single most important thing a parent can do is be enthusiastic about learning! Make the time to be with your child discussing, encouraging, and supporting them as they learn, both in and out of the classroom.
Routine, Routine, Routine!
Routines and habits are important to children, helping them feel secure and confident. They have this incessant need to know what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen. Most children love the big picture; perhaps a calendar across a frequently passed wall could be posted in the home. The day is marked with after-school activities, dental/doctor appointments (which hopefully are also scheduled for after- school) which carpool is on that week, school reports that are due, show-and-tell schedule, field trips, school parties, etc. And, be sure and include down-time, as well.
Sleep: Getting to bed and getting up at the same time everyday; removing the TV/computer from the bedrooms if they are currently there; no caffeinated sodas or chocolate before bedtime.
Nutritious Meals: Breakfast, lunch, after-school snacks, and dinner. Our brains need sound nutrition in order to operate at their optimum level. Many educators believe that those first 10-minutes a child is home from school are the magical minutes for a parent to be there. Fix a snack together, ask about their day, inquire about their friends, etc.
Homework: Have a proper place and time; some kids need complete quiet, sequestered in a back bedroom to study while other kids need mom’s interaction while she’s preparing dinner so they sit at the kitchen table.
Let Homework Teach Independence
Teachers across the state plead with parents, “Please do not do your child’s homework!”
Homework can teach children to work independently, encourage self-discipline and responsibility, and instill a love for learning. Have your child teach and show you the steps in their assignments. Tell them, “You work on this for 15 minutes and then I’ll be back to check on you.” It’s also O.K. if you don’t know the answers. Teach your child to use the local library, the Internet, ask an older child or another adult, or ask the teacher for additional assistance. Grades and performance do not equate worth. Not every child will get into or needs an Ivy League school. There are many paths to success! If homework is too hard, that’s good information for the teacher to have. Either the assignment was inappropriate for the student or you are uncovering a possible learning disability. As a parent, you are ideal teacher’s assistant for your child. Stay involved in their learning.
Role-Model Love of Learning
Confidently pursue learning something new, whether that is a new computer program, sport, home repair, musical instrument, etc. Allow your child observe your tenacity, follow-through, and sheer enjoyment of excelling in a new area. It’s the effort and mastery not perfection that is inspiring to our families. Play concentration and strategy games with your children. Provide brain challenges throughout your day – how to double a recipe, rearrange the living room, or how to finish-off the basement. Encourage your child to “stick to it” when the going gets tough. Let them see you stick with the tough things in life, as well.
Next week, Dr. Liz will be answering your back-to-school questions! From anxieties to schedules, e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.