It is usual for us parents to have high expectations for our kids at school. I have always said to my kids over and over that their main responsibility is to study and do their best at school. I, as a parent, expect my kids to help around the house and clean their rooms, and for the most part, they do, but schoolwork is important and is prioritized when planning my family schedule.
A few days ago my oldest son received the news that he could take an exam, provided by his school district, that if he passes this exam he will be eligible to get credits that will allow him to learn 9th Grade Math next year when he goes to 7th Grade. He is already in Advanced Math and thriving in his class. So when I brought this opportunity to him, and I left it to him to take it or not, he immediately accepted the challenge.
After reviewing all the information, he said he wanted to take the test, and my only two conditions were that he needs to prepare himself for it, and whatever he does with the exam he does it with 100%. He would need to practice and read and practice some more, of course, I will help him and support him. I said that if he doesn’t pass the test, it’ll be ok as long as he gave 100% and gave all his effort. He, of course, agreed enthusiastically.
So, that made me think… how can us parents support our kids with their studies? Here are my tips for you. It is what we do as a family and has worked for us so far.
- Create a reading habit. Give your kids time to read every day. The time gets adjusted as they get older. For example, my 9-year-old gets 20 to 25 minutes, my 12-year-old gets 25 – 30 minutes. This habit will help them build the foundation to discipline themselves towards their school work.
- Provide them with a place to study. It can be their room, your room, the dining table or the kitchen island. It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as it is a constant place they feel comfortable and familiar with.
- Learn with them. Yes, we want and need time to sit down, relax, and do our thing, but taking the time to learn with your kids is pivotal to their learning process. We, for example, read the Children’s Encyclopedia with our kids. They pick the subject and we take turns with reading the paragraphs and before we know it their little brain just learned new information.
- Support them in what they like. My sons have gone through all kinds of interests, from the Titanic to airplanes, to all kinds of sports, etc., so we take them to the Library and they can find books on the subjects, from dinosaurs to precious rocks, and from Catholicism to Buddhism. Whenever a subject catches their attention, we motivate them to learn more about it.
- Reward success and understand the failures. When your kids do great, be happy for them, make them feel their effort is valued, and when your kids have what’s considered to you failures, be compassionate and understanding. Ask the right questions such as “Do you understand your mistake?” and “Do you want to go over it to understand it better?” “How can I help you bring the grade up?” Asking questions like “Why did you fail?” and “Why you did not try your best?” Are counterproductive and will not bring their grades up. We all make mistakes, and getting back on track is what matters. You want your kids to be open and honest with their struggles so when a bad grade or conduct comes home, it is a window to connect with your child in a compassionate and loving way.
- Provide them a healthy breakfast and a healthy snack. A nutritious, low sugar and a “good” fat content snack or meal are important for your kids. When they eat healthily and nutritious, it is scientifically proven that their brains become more attentive and their body/mind becomes significantly more energetic and alert and that makes a big difference on their day at school. We have our own “breakfast ritual” with our power shakes every morning (Monday to Saturday), but breakfasts like avocado toast, toast with hummus, a plain yogurt with low sugar granola and all sorts of fruits and veggies are great options. A healthy snack when your kids come back from school includes, hummus and celery/carrots sticks, or hummus toast, almonds, cashews or pistachios, low sugar energy bars, etc. Providing a healthy snack and meal will provide a surge of energy to tackle any homework or sports activities.
These are my top 6 tips for helping your kids with their studies. We do all 6 of those tips with our sons, and so far it has helped them tremendously. They are thriving at their academics and after school activities (soccer and running). It also provides an avenue to make you feel like you are a part of their journey. Remember, their success is your success.