Often I think back to when I was in school. Well, I may have farther to go back than most of you. Anyway, what I know for sure….It.is.quite.different.now.
There were no video games, cell phones, or social media. My screen time was television. The shows at that time were wholesome. A couple of my favorites were Little House on the Prairie and Leave it to Beaver. I could name a whole bunch more, but I won’t bore you. I also looked forward to the After School Specials…remember those?!
Today things are different. In this day and time, parenting must be at another level. Our children have so many avenues of distraction. TV programming has changed. Shows on the kid channels reflect children being disrespectful to their parents and some of the sitcoms use inappropriate innuendos.
Devices…they have overtaken our kids and parents. I’ve witnessed babies and toddlers throw fits until they get to watch or play on an iPad or phone. Older kids are sneaking on their devices late at night and during the school day without permission.
At home, families are disconnected from one another. Genuine communication does not happen. Everyone is in their own area, doing their own thing….probably on a device.
Guess what? It can all impact your child’s success at school. I know right?! It’s possible you never really thought about it, so I want to bring awareness to you and give you five things you can do at home to help your child be successful in school.
1. Monitor Screen Time
Please note, I did not say “no screen time.” That would be ridiculous!
It is necessary to monitor the amount of screen time your child spends watching tv and playing video games. Will your child think you’re being unreasonable? Ummm…yes! They’ve been allowed to create a habit of spending endless hours with screen time. You know how difficult it is to break a habit! Get ready for resistance as you create a new habit. If there was no initial resistance, I would be leary.
Moderation and limitation are necessary. Set up small increments of time. Possibly an hour of video games or tv, but not both on the same day. Or you might decide to have screen time only on the weekend and still include time limits. Whatever you decide, be consistent. There will be times you have something to do or somewhere to go and it will be convenient to cave in. Don’t do it. Be consistent.
Look around your home. What one item do you have in every room? (I’ll refer back to this later.)
Children who read the most, read the best. Reading is the most important subject in school. It is necessary for each content area. In math, reading is required for comprehending word problems. Also, both science and social studies require reading. Again, children who read the most, read the best.
If your child doesn’t enjoy reading just yet, read to them or listen to audiobooks. Listening is a component of comprehension. Listening exposes your child to plot and vocabulary development.
Often parents think it’s important to read to their child when they’re rather young. That is not the case. Read to them always. Forget the age. Even your preteen will love for you to read to them.
Read daily with your child. Let them read to you. Take turns reading. Just read. Make the time for reading for at least 20 minutes a day. Once this becomes a habit, don’t be surprised when your child’s reading becomes more independent….and for longer periods of time.
Back to the one item you have in every room. If you answered BOOKS, jump shout and shake your tail feather. If books were not your answer, start having a few in each room. Books, magazines, comics…it doesn’t matter. Have them available and then read them!
3. Family Time
Busy work days. Extracurricular activities. You may not be able to find balance, but you have to decide to prioritize.
Include family time in your weekly schedule. Every family is different, but spend time together doing what works for your family.
Decide on your designated day for family time. Allow each family member to give reasonable suggestions. Create a list of choices and post it in a central location. Some examples are pizza night, movie night, or game night. The choices are endless. On our list, we have a family time free night. When this is chosen, we are all in the same room, but we each are doing free choice activities such as, reading, drawing, working on a puzzle, writing, or listening to music.
4. Demonstrate a Positive Attitude About Education
Your attitude about education impacts your child.
You may have experienced an academic subject that caused you much distress when you were a kid. Although you may not be aware of it, you may possibly be exposing this distress to your child.
If you constantly say, “I hate math!” “I struggled in math my whole entire life!” or anything to that nature about any subject, guess what? You are negatively impacting your child’s academic self-esteem.
Stop allowing that nauseating feeling in your gut result in negative words whenever your “challenging” subject is mentioned. Respond with encouragement and support. It may not be easy, but you can do this. For example, respond with “I understand how math concepts can be challenging, let’s google this topic together.” On the flip side, if your child’s challenging subject is in an area that you were a superstar, you should not respond with, “What?! Don’t you understand poetic devices? I was the poetry slam champ throughout my entire school life!” Instead, you might say, “I may be able to offer help, let’s give it a whirl.” or offer to seek out a tutor.
5. Have Conversations Regularly
Families get busily involved with the day-to-day grind and forget the importance of communicating with one another. Parents talk at children. Children respond with one-word answers or a simple nod of the head.
Make the time to talk with your child regularly. Maybe while eating dinner or doing some other task or activity together. In our home, I have started carvasations. Whenever we are in the car we talk. No phones or radio allowed. It wasn’t received well at first. But now as soon as we get into the car the question is, “Mom, whatcha wanna talk about?” You can learn so much about your child during carvasations!
Building relationships start at home. Communication is the foundation to building relationships. A great way to do this is by asking open-ended questions. These types of questions require more than a simple yes or no and open the door to further questioning, listening and sharing thoughts.
I would recommend you not start with questions concerning school. Save those until after this new habit has developed a bit. I started with This or That Questions. I used this as a teacher with my sixth graders to think and explain. They didn’t realize they were thinking critically! These require a one-word answer but follow up with “Why?” to each question. Remember how your child used to ask “Why?” to E.V.E.R.Y. thing in their younger years?! Well, it’s payback time. 🙂
This or That examples:
- Milkshake or sundae?
- Netflix or Hulu?
- Reading or Math?
- Monday or Wednesday?
- Chicken fingers or chicken nuggets?
Other open-ended question ideas:
- If you could spend a Saturday with 3 friends, who would you choose?
- What would you do with $1,000?
- What three words would you use to describe yourself?
- If you could have one superpower what would it be?
This is not an interview. Encourage your child to ask you questions too.
Remember, you are transforming your family by creating new habits at home that will help your child experience success in school. Initially, you may encounter resistance but hang in there.
What you do or don’t do at home impacts your child’s academic success. I ran across this quote once upon a time, I don’t know who said it, but I love it…”A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.”