As your child begins the new school year, you may wonder how you, as a parent, can help your elementary-aged child enjoy school.
You are the greatest influence on your child’s perception of school. Here are a few suggestions to help you enhance the likelihood of your child’s success, both academically and socially.
1. Create confidence
Confident children simply perform better. So how do you raise your child’s confidence level?
• Believe in your child. If your children know that you believe they can do it, they believe they can do it. Kids rise to the standard parents set for them. Our words should predict a bright future, even on the days they aren’t convinced.
• Let your child make mistakes — even fail. If you rescue your child in both social and academic settings, you are doing him a huge disservice. Even though our hearts ache when our child forgets a line in a school play, doesn’t make the team or forgets his lunch for the umpteenth time, he will stand taller when he creates solutions to avoid failure the next time. Remember, allowing failure now when the cost is low sure beats the high cost of failure in the teen years.
• Read with your kid. Reading with your child instills a love of story, which will become a love of reading. It’s also the best skill for building confidence in academics. Reading with your child 15 to 20 minutes each day communicates that you want to be with them, and that makes them feel valuable. You’ll get to have great discussions about what you read, and your child will see that their ideas are important to you. Building a sense of value in your child is irreplaceable. Reading and/or listening to someone read also increases reading and comprehension skills. And, when kids feel confident in their reading, this confidence transfers to every other area of their life.
• Love your kid. Every person has a fundamental need to be accepted, especially by the ones closest to us. When your children know without a doubt that Mom and Dad love them, it sets them on a course of success that will be demonstrated both in their friendships and school work. There is nothing like the confidence and stability that comes from knowing you are loved. Communicate your love for your child often.
2. Create excitement
Choose your words about school carefully. Are you guilty of saying, “I bet you can’t wait for summer vacation,” implying that school is a dreaded task to get through? Instead, speak often of the excitement of school. Share interesting and humorous stories of your school experiences (No, not the uphill-both-ways kind of story). If your child finds academics extra-challenging, emphasize the joy of friendships. The key is to portray school in a positive light.
Consider boredom a friend. After enjoying the “last blast of summer” with waterslides, vacations and special meals right before school year begins, many over-stimulated and over-entertained children find the start of school disappointing. Excessive TV and video game time has the same effect. So, limit entertainment and “screen time,” and when your child says he’s bored, rest assured you are making school grow in its appeal.
3. Create a healthy home
Schedule for success. Kids thrive with a predictable schedule. One key is to schedule adequate sleep, preferably nine to 10 hours each night. Another key to success is faithfully eating breakfast, encouraging whole grains, protein and limited sugar to avoid the mid-morning crash.
Be an example of healthy living. Are you living out healthy eating and exercise habits? Using your best communication skills? Demonstrating self-control? How do you treat others? How do you resolve problems? Most kids will grow up to be just like their parents, so it is critical to live balanced, joyful lives in front of our kids.
If you want your children to succeed, plan for it and coach your child toward that goal. And remember, no one has a greater impact on their child’s success than you, the parent.