One of the most important things we can do as parents to help our children do well academically, is to provide a healthy, safe and secure home life. When our children know that everything is in order at home, when they know that they are accepted and loved, it is a lot easier for them to focus on school.
Here are 5 things we can do to keep home life in order and help kids do well in school.
Keep mornings calm.
It is important to try and keep morning stress-free and calm. One of the best ways to do that is to prepare for a new school day the night before. Mornings are also not the best time to scold your children, point out all they are doing wrong, or reprimand them. This starts the day off on the wrong foot. We want to send our children to school feeling confident and secure and loved. We want them to leave the house feeling good about themselves, not like they are always in trouble.
Establish a routine.
Routines help to keep life predictable. Predictability helps our children feel secure and safe. When children feel safe, they worry less. Less worry means they have more energy and effort to learn. It also helps them focus because they are less distracted. Mealtime, homework and bedtime routines are especially important. Protect your bedtime routine and work to get kids the sleep they need at a consistent time every night. Strive to establish a dinner time routine and eat together every day. These routines will build life long connections with your children. Not to mention, they will be better tempered, happier, and more able to learn.
Don’t over schedule your children.
Limit your kids to one, maybe two, extracurricular activities. It is natural to want our children to be involved in everything and learn every skill and talent. But choices have to be made. Think of it this way: Teaching your kids to make choices is an essential part of a parent’s job. Supporting our children means we help to protect their time also. Make sure kids have down time and family time to recharge and rejuvenate. Part of their job description is to “play”. Give them time to do that.
Meet them at the Crossroads-Be Available.
One of the best ways to support our children is to be there for them. It is vital that we are available to listen to our children every day. Avoid being preoccupied on the phone when you pick up the kids from school, or when they walk in door. Set that time aside everyday. Be at the crossroads. Be there mentally and physically when kids come home from school, or from activities. The day’s experiences are fresh on our children’s minds and they are ready to talk. Ask them about their day. Be specific to help jog their memories (What did you do in music today? How did it go with your Math test? What games did you play at recess?). If they aren’t very talkative, that’s okay. Be there anyway. Just knowing that you are available will give them peace of mind and let them know that when they need to talk, you will be there.
All kids “talk” differently. Our daughter comes home and wants to talk immediately and tell me every detail of her day. Our son comes home and has nothing to say. So, I have to just be available, and sure enough, a few hours later, he is ready to open up about how his day went. When they start to talk, listen. Put yourself at eye level, talk less and listen more. It is these times with our children that will teach us about their hopes and dreams and fears. Don’t shoot down their ideas, or downplay their worries. Address the concerns and show them that you will protect what they say and honor their feelings. Some of my very best memories as a child were made sitting in the kitchen right after school, eating a snack, and telling my mom about what happened at school.
Make time to play together as a family.
Support your children by doing things together as a family. (Television doesn’t count). Don’t worry about the activities being extravagant or expensive. That isn’t necessary. The key is that you are together as a family.
Schedule your family time on the calendar and it will be much more likely to happen. Consider it as important, if not more important than all your other appointments. Encourage your family to arrange their schedule so they can always be in attendance. After all, isn’t your family the most important part of any day?
Family activities build stability and security and teach families how to adapt and negotiate experiences. They provide challenges and foster communication. They build memories and provide opportunities for children to feel loved. They also provide learning experiences for our children that they can use when negotiating school situations. These weekly activities give our families a chance to regroup, reconnect, and build strong bonds.
Solid research shows that parental involvement predicts children’s academic success more than any other family characteristic. This new school year, take time to build a strong home and build your child’s esteem, so they can go to school confident and ready to learn.
Homemaker, wife and mother. My husband and I have five children. On the side I am an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University where I received a Masters Degree in Youth and Family Recreation. Three times a week I endeavor to teach college students the importance of families doing things together. Then I come home and try to figure out how to implement what I just taught. Believe me I know, It is a lot easier said than done. I used to speak French, wish I could dance, and will almost always choose fruity over chocolate.
Heather is the author of Family Volley, where writes about parenting, motherhood and relationships.