How Parents Can Work Together to Help Their Child With Their Education
Parents Working Together
“When you become a parent don’t allow anything in your life that you don’t want reproduced in your children.” –Anonymous
The power of education starts at home
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Home is where the heart is.” Well, home is also where the heart of a child’s education lies. As a middle school educator for over 20 years and working with thousands of teens and tweens, I have seen students come to school with a myriad of emotions, skills, and particular mindsets toward education. Children embody certain characteristics that either help them toward or hinder them away from a love for education.
Some children are naturally eager and ready to learn, while others appear disengaged and unmotivated. Some students come to class demonstrating great curiosity and confidence in their abilities. Others appear disinterested and lack the skills they need to become successful. Some are self-starters and others need to be prompted to take action. Some are leaders, others are followers. Some are outspoken and regularly participate in class discussion, while others are observers and more passive learners. Some rise to the challenge when given the opportunity, while others settle for the bare minimum.
Each child’s unique personality is shaped throughout their formative years. Through regular interactions with family members (or lack thereof), they form a sense of identity that they then associate with going to school. This inner perspective determines much of their outlook on education – for better or for worse. They learn that when the going gets tough, either “I can do it,” “I can’t do it,” or “Someone else will do it for me.”
Finding opportunities for your child to consistently succeed helps build their self-esteem and self-confidence. This starts by creating a routine in which they do their homework each day – at the same time, in the same place, and in the same room (with very few exceptions). Routines are not only important for a child’s emotional stability, but offer vital opportunities for learning to take place at all stages of a child/adolescent’s development.
As a father of a toddler, I witness firsthand how powerful routines are in offering my daughter the chance to build curiosity, self-confidence, initiative, self-control, patience, communication skills, and problem-solving skills. In the morning, my daughter knows that when she is finished playing with her stuffed animals and building different LEGO structures, she must clean up after herself before we can move onto the next activity. When we go downstairs, her morning contribution to the family is to help unload the dishwasher before we can do any puzzles. When the late afternoon arrives, she helps water the plants before we can run around outside together and play.
Develop a love for reading
When it comes to reading, our home is stocked with a library of books to choose from and is a place our daughter can safely explore the depths of her imagination. When it comes to music, there is an assortment of instruments for her to play on a regular basis. When it comes to art, there is a designated area with a variety of options to choose from, including drawing, coloring, and finger painting.
For routines to stick, it is important to take every opportunity you can to regularly stock your home with a variety of opportunities that invoke discovery and pique curiosity, all while you being emotionally and physically available for your child’s needs. As time passes, if routines have been consistently implemented and reinforced, they become second nature to children. They know when to do specific tasks, how long they will take (generally speaking), and the value in performing each one.
Getting your child to complete homework on a regular basis
Routines help provide a much needed emotional safety and stability for a child. They help strengthen the parent-child bond, which greatly reduces potential power struggles. Let’s say that your child wants to keep playing video games, all while procrastinating on completing their homework. There are a number of approaches you can take to create a more consistent and effective “less fuss” routine for homework completion.
• Remind your child about the expectations and value of homework completion.
• Couple a reminder of your expectations of homework completion with a reinforced consequence system if expectations aren’t met.
• Share power with your children and give them the option to:
- Continue playing video games for a set time frame and then do their homework or
- Complete their homework first and only when it is completed to your standard set forth, they would be allowed to play video games for a certain length of time.
• You may have the expectation/routine of “No Video Game Play” during the weekday and only on the weekend. This can be a useful carrot to dangle as a reward for all homework completed for that week.
Demonstrate genuine interest
A routine sets a “muscle memory” of what is to be done at a certain time and place. However, a genuine interest displayed by a parent is what sets a child’s “emotion” be-hind the routine. Over time, children will place a specific emotional value onto a routine.
Here are some examples to get a gauge on your child’s emotions regarding their home and school life. Have them fill in the blanks.
- Reading is __________. (fun, exciting, boring)
- Doing my chores are ___________. (valuable, family contributions, boring, evil)
- Doing homework is ____________. (very important for my learning, helping me get good grades, meaningless, a drag and a complete waste of time)
- Doing a school project is _____________. (creative, challenging, time-consuming,
Proactive parents carve the path for their child’s educational success
Parents have the power to make something come to life for their children by themselves working together as a cohesive unit to model a love for that routine. For instance, take the opportunity to turn reading time into a great adventure by putting out props and doing a read/act aloud. Or sit down with your child and take a moment to ask them questions about what they are learning. This helps pique their interest, enhance their comprehension, and may even get them to laugh and better engage with the material and concepts they are learning. This level of engagement and commitment goes a long way toward investing in your child’s educational success.
Douglas Haddad is an award-winning middle school teacher and the best-selling author of The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens. He has been awarded “Teacher of the Year” in his Connecticut school district, as well as represent the state of Connecticut as a Teacher-Ambassador in Public Education. To learn more, visit www.douglashaddad.com