As a parent, you want your children to succeed – both in school and in life. You may already be doing some of the things on this list. Others may be new to you or, more likely, something you know you want to do, but need a reminder and encouragement to pursue. All of the suggestions are valuable, but there is not one approach that is the “silver bullet”. We hope these ideas will be helpful to you in providing your child with everything needed for success.
Express Love: Even the toughest challenges are easier to take on if we know that we’re loved unconditionally – no matter how well we do with those challenges.
Express Belief in Your Child: A child who has been struggling academically often develops a negative self-image. You can help by pointing out your child’s positive qualities to them, and by providing opportunities to excel in areas of strength. Take advantage of every opportunity to compliment your child for things done well.
Stay Positive: If your child has developed negative attitude and behaviors, it will be necessary to set appropriate limits. But remember, you can’t build a positive attitude with negative feedback. For every correction that is necessary, find two positive things to say about your child.
Celebrate Small Steps: If your child is functioning far below grade level, it may take months to reach grade level. Don’t wait until then to celebrate. Every step in the right direction is worth celebrating. And every celebration builds motivation, enthusiasm, and hope.
Facilitate Homework: Your child needs to know that you think homework is valuable. Express interest in what is being learned. Provide a quiet, comfortable place to work, with good light and minimal distractions. Be available to help when needed (but don’t take over). Look for opportunities to validate good efforts and accomplishments.
Have Special Time Together: At bedtime, or some other convenient time, cuddle up with your child for special sharing - talk about dreams, hopes, questions, and fears; read or tell stories; sing songs; pray together.
Read Aloud Together: This is one of the very best things you can do to advance you child’s education. Take turns reading to each other. When you read, read with animation. Make it a fun activity together.
Encourage Exercise: Active play and sports are good for your child’s body and mind. Especially with high-energy children, providing opportunities for lively actively before studying and during breaks can make study time much more productive, and less tense for you both. Activities that increase physical coordination can actually improve academic performance. And if your child is talented athletically, physical activity time can also enhance self-esteem and build a positive attitude.
Limit Television and Video Games: Learning requires active, creative, engaged minds. TV can be emotionally involving, but creates a totally passive mental attitude. Video and computer games require a response, but most do not engage minds creatively. Depending on the child, excessive use of TV and games may produce lethargy or over-activity. And please be vigilant to protect your child from TV programs or games that have an upsetting or confusing effect, either emotionally or morally.
Let Your Child Help You: One of the most effective means of building your child’s self-esteem and sense of capability is to provide an opportunity to help you with something that you are doing. Be on the look-out for situations in which your child can make a contribution, even if it is a small one. Be patient and encouraging, and express your appreciation of any efforts that are made.
Play Together: As adults, we demonstrate love by doing things for our children. But children experience our love when we enter into their world. Take time to play with your child. Laugh. Have fun. Your child will be happier, feel more loved, and be more able to take-on life with a positive attitude.
Provide Healthy Foods: Children who come to school hungry are less able to learn. Likewise, children who eat a diet loaded with sugar and refined foods are often troubled by excessive physical activity and poor concentration, as well as general health problems. If your child already has learning difficulties, please don’t make the challenges harder with a poor diet. Help your child gradually to develop a taste for fresh fruits and vegetables and for nuts and dried fruit, instead of sugary and fatty snacks. Replace soft drinks with 100% fruit juices. And be sure to provide a healthy breakfast to start the day right.
Provide Plenty of Sleep: Tired children are not able to take advantage of the learning opportunities provided to them. They are also more likely to get sick. Depending on the age and physical characteristics of your particular child, a good weeknight bedtime is between 7:00 and 9:00 PM.
Provide Stability and Peace at Home: We all have unavoidable challenges and stresses in our lives. It’s important to remember that children are particularly affected by these experiences. Children are keen observers, but generally are poor interpreters. They often have an unrealistic sense of responsibility and guilt over the problems facing their families. A child that is carrying an emotional burden has less energy available for learning. Whenever possible, protect your child from unnecessary emotional upsets. When that is not possible, provide a chance to talk about feelings and to receive comfort. For some situations, professional counseling can be most helpful. In all life’s challenges, sharing your own faith and providing spiritual encouragement can be a great help for your child. If you need help yourself, talk to a counselor, pastor, or trusted friend. The help you get for yourself is often one of the best things you can do for your child.