Thursday, August 22, 2013

7 ways to help your child succeed in school

I attended a public school as a child and like all students who did exceptionally well in academics, I had to deal with the negative stigmatism of having “book sense but no common sense.” As if there was something terribly wrong with seeking excellence in pursuit of an education. I didn’t truly care what others thought. My parents didn’t raise me to care what other people thought, but even I have to admit that when you come from humble a background it seems that succeeding in school can be challenging.

As an adult, I see that more people realize that in order to move from one social class to another, you will have to embrace the power of education. A degree or certification in an area of expertise is a gift that keeps on giving. But we often find our children struggling in middle school and relying on dreams of playing a sport to be there legal way out of poverty level living.

But every child is not LeBron James.

Our children have more challenges today than we did as children. They need their parent's help to succeed. And it is in our best interest to help them…unless we want them to live with us, well into their 40’s.

So, here are ways you can help your child succeed:

1.      First and foremost, show your children that you care.

My parents didn’t follow all of the advice here. But they did the most important thing a parent could do. The showed that they cared.

My mother cared enough to pursue her own educational endeavors. Seeing her work hard to take care of us and get an education was both motivating and confirming. It motivated me to continue to learn and confirmed that hard work would pay off.

And my grandmother prepared me for the first grade, because I couldn’t get into pre-school. I was ahead of some of the students and I was eager to learn.

They showed that they cared in their own way. And that is the most important thing you can do. Show that you care in your own way.

Note: Most of what I will list falls under the umbrella of showing that you care.

2.      Ask about your children’s homework.

If you show that you care about their homework, then they will care about their homework.

3.      Talk to you children about school for a short time each day.

For the same reason you ask about their homework. Now, I understand, listening to your child talk about the drama of school—something you left behind a long time ago—can be like watching paint dry. But you only need to do it for a few minutes to “show” interest.

When you talk with them, talk from a positive point of view. Don’t say things like, “I wasn’t good in school.” It just gives them a reason to not do well in school either. Instead, say, “School is a great, because knowledge is power.” Or something along that line. Just be positive. If you try, you can find something positive to say.

4.      Teach children respect for authorities, their fellow students and themselves.

Don’t be that parent.

You know the one that always takes their child’s side. Little Damien can be sitting there with horns coming out of his head and steam coming out of his ears. Yet his mother is calling him her little angel. I guess that it is a parent’s job; to see the best in their child, but don’t give them an avenue to manipulate, you and the teacher.

5.      Ensure that your child is living healthy.

They need plenty of sleep, healthy foods to eat and clear water to drink. Limit their television, video games and increase their physical play. Exercise sends oxygen to the brain—it makes you smarter. Some parents will have a problem with this because you can’t enforce these rules and be your child’s friend.

But you child already has friends.

They don’t need you to be their friend. They need you to be their mother or father. And if you need them to be your friend, then might I suggest making friends with Jesus or another adult?

6.      Actively take part in educating your child.

This could involve buying books for your child, reading to your pre-school or elementary child and encouraging your child to read. I visit the bookstore weekly with my family and everyone gets something to read, even my one-year old.

Also, help them with their homework. Don’t do their homework for them, push them in the right direction or encourage them to do their best. I have had times when my son has come to me with problems and I had to read the question twice, because I had no clue what they were asking.

Difficulty with the homework can be expected, but even if you have no idea how to do whatever your fifth grader is doing, you can find someone that does. If you have a humble background, you may not have the funds for a tutor, but someone in the family can help. And even if you can’t find anyone, put aside whatever you are doing and try to figure it out together. It will be fun. If you aren’t able to figure it out, be positive. Tell your child that “we” must be missing something and tell him or her to ask the teacher a few choice questions {depends on the problem} and encourage your child to move on to the next problem, this will give your child a mission that is important to the both of you and they will try even harder.

7.      And finally give them a reward for good behavior.

It is called positive reinforcement. You are reinforcing positive actions with positive rewards. Don’t give them food as a reward. I have four words for you. Obesity. Diabetes. Heart Disease. Give them a toy, book, money or something that they will appreciate and preferably won’t hurt your pocket.

That’s it. 7 ways and your child will be on his or her way to becoming something great. Also, remember to teach your child that everyone is a genius at something and everyone can be a genius at working hard.