Title: How You Can Help Your Child to Succeed in School and in Life – Part 2: Small Acts that Generate Big Returns!
Previously, we wrote about three key principles that can be nurtured to help your child succeed in school and in life. Today, we return with part two of the series on tiny acts that generate big returns in shaping your child’s habits and demeanour!
Communicate openly and respectfully. This is the basis for anything else – a child will only communicate their thoughts, experiences, fears, challenges, joys, and hopes if they believe what they share would be received well. Create a safe environment for them to speak their mind. Let them know that they won’t be judged. Never criticize or be spiteful, that will push them to withdraw anything they wanted to tell you almost immediately. Instead, reflect what they said, ask questions to clarify, empathize with their emotions, and correct them when needed. Opening the channels of communication leads in to everything else below.
Organize study and homework projects. Teach your child to be organized in her study and homework projects. Plan for days to study and days to rest. Mark important dates, which could be exams, reports, or other days such as outings and fun. Keep the pace realistic – not too overwhelming, but not uninspiring or unchallenging either. Besides learning how to organize her life, this schedule would instil discipline and consistency, serving as a reminder that things would snowball if she were to procrastinate.
Encourage educational habits. Teach your child that studying is more than just doing homework assignments. There is a difference between studying and doing homework assignments. Encourage your child to do things like:
Develop note-taking. Note-taking is a skill that is often overlooked and left to develop on its own. Students typically start out taking notes verbatim by simply writing down what the teacher says, word for word. Some learn to process the knowledge and write important points, or go beyond the materials taught to link it with their own knowledge base and generate new ideas, links or concepts. Some fail to learn to take notes at all. It is best to guide a child to learn to jot down notes and important ideas that come to mind. This instils a habit of skilful note-taking, and allows knowledge and ideas to build up other time.
Work closely with her teacher. Teachers are the best go-to person to find out about your child’s behaviour in school, where she is excelling, what her potential is and what her challenges are. Your child’s teacher would see your child in a setting that you do not have equal access to – the classroom, where she may be a different person altogether. Get feedback. Be involved. Gain new perspectives and understanding of your child. And also, be realistic in your expectations and mindful of what a teacher is and is not able to do – teachers are not parents after all.
Encourage reading. Reading is an increasingly difficult habit to nurture in today’s digital age. Yet, reading widely is a characteristic of all successful students, and it’s something that parents can easily encourage from a young age through small acts. Taking your children to the library for joint reading sessions, issuing them their own library cards, having plenty of books available in your own home, and buying attractive or interesting books as presents are all possible ways to instil a love of reading in your children. Once she discovers the joy of reading, it will carry the habit forward from there.
Make conversations, exploration and debate a way of life. Conversations are perhaps the best way to learn – through free discussion and exploration of ideas and concepts. Find time to talk to your child (perhaps at the dinner table!). Ask them what they’ve been studying, and perhaps ask them to explain things to you (but not in a way that is pressurizing or intimidating). Ask them what they think about the subject, and challenge those opinions. Learn to think through arguments and ideas. This teaches them different perspectives and that the world is often not black-or-white. It also teaches them that complex issues have many answers, and different people may agree to disagree. Importantly, it also develops their skills in academic discussion and debate, which would be important for university and beyond. The conversations can span any topic beyond what your child studied – current affairs, how people around you behave, thoughts about life etc; what is important is that the conversation goes into deeper understanding and perspectives.
We hope that these would be helpful! Next up, we would be writing about managing stress in exams!