You don't need to understand everything your child is learning at school to get them more involved in their studies. What matters most is that you're there to give them support whenever they need it. Students who are more active in school are often happier and more fulfilled. Here are some tips on what you can do to help your child stay focused, engaged, and happy in school.
Have a Positive, Upbeat Attitude
An overlooked aspect of children's education is their mental health. Studies show that constant criticisms take a toll on a child's self-esteem and productivity.
You are your child's first source of validation; as such, you need to be their biggest fan. Praise them when they deserve it. Support their strengths. Show genuine interest in their education. Such deeds might seem trivial, but they can transform your child's attitude towards school in ways you never imagined. Thank us later.
Lay Down the "When You" Rule
One of life's most important lessons is that we get paid only after accomplishing a task. So start saying things like:
"When you finish your homework, we can discuss watching that movie you wanted to see on Netflix."
"When you are done studying, you are welcome to go to your friend's house."
Enforce this rule and stick to it. If your child does not have the necessary discipline, this will help create it.
Indeed, by incorporating the "when you" rule, you are helping your child learn how to do what their brain is not yet equipped to do—which is to be disciplined and delay gratification.
Leave No Room for Excuses
Avoid giving your child a reason for making excuses. Even if you think your child will feel better if you do, never say this sort of thing: "Some people just aren't wired for math." Your child may think they're incapable of handling or succeeding in some tasks, which is the wrong message to send.
Remember, success in a future job will require your child to do the best they can. You will not help your child by encouraging him or her to make excuses whenever it is convenient.
Put Your Child in the Driving Seat as Much as Possible
When it comes to K-12 education, all some kids experience is control, control, control. When a child feels controlled, or out of control when it comes to their school work, they often withdraw from learning altogether. This is one reason Method Schools has been such a great option for thousands of Southern California students - we help our students regain control over what their education looks like.
While it's important to guide children through the learning process, it's just as important to accord them to liberty to control their own learning experience. Particularly at home, provide your child the ability to have direct input into their learning choices. For example, when assigning a writing project, allow your child to choose a topic they feel comfortable writing about.
We also recommend allowing children to choose their own extracurricular activities. The more control and input you're able to provide a child, with respect to their learning activities, environment, and style, the more engaged and motivated a child will become to learn.
Teach Your Child Responsibility
As children grow, they have to learn to make their own decisions, and this applies at school as well as at home. You want your child to be able to look after themselves, so how do you teach them responsibility? Give them tasks such as taking the rubbish out or spreading their bed. Though small, these will benefit your child in the long run.
When children have responsibilities at home, it helps them take responsibility for their own learning. If they go out without finishing their homework, for instance, then they'll have to face the consequences. When a child knows that it's up to them to get things done, then that's a big step toward becoming self-reliant—and this will help them at school, at home, and in their future career.
Allow Your Child to Follow Their Passion
In a world of hyper-specialization, it isn't important—or even possible—to be good at everything. It's more important to be extremely good at a few things or just one. So, if your child shows genuine interest and takes a lot of joy in a certain topic at school, they will find it a lot easier to excel.
As parents, there is a natural tendency to worry about the things our children are less good at. But if there's something the likes of Leonardo Di Caprio, Lionel Messi, and Albert Einstein have shown us, it's that following one's passion pays. If math is their passion, don't be afraid to speak on its positive impact. Spending time with them as they connect and enjoy a subject will also give insight into ways you can help transfer that joy to a less loved topic.
Help Your Child Find a Mentor
According to research by North Carolina State University, children who have mentors are more likely to become successful in life.
A mentor is simply an adult who acts as a role model for your child. One of the biggest benefits of your children having a mentor is that they will understand a perspective on life from someone who isn't their parent.
The mentor's values and attitudes may be similar to yours. However, those values will mean more to your child when someone outside the family models them. One reason for this is that children inevitably become accustomed to their parents' viewpoints and eventually begin to tune their parents out. Having a mentor is the perfect opportunity for your child to re-engage with those values from a fresh perspective.
A mentor could be:
- One of your co-workers
- An art teacher, music teacher, or sports coach
- A family friend
- A neighbor
For all these tips, start from where your child is. What we mean is that, in many cases, your child may have a long way to go, and you don't want to overwhelm them by trying to work on too many issues at once.
Expect your child won't like the new changes at first, but they'll get used to them. Be patient. Don't expect improvement overnight, but don't underestimate your child either. Be confident that the structure you've put in place will bear fruit someday. All the best in this difficult but meaningful journey.