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10 School Tips For Your Kids

Getting ready for school - Redwood Family TherapyIs your child nervous about starting school? Here’s some ideas to help you prepare your children to be successful at school this year.

1. Communication
Keep relationships with your kids that are open, respectful and positive. Stay on your kids’ team, don’t play against them. This will allow you to be most influential with them, which is your most important parenting tool.
Listen to them! Often, attentive listening is the most difficult thing for parents to do, because kids keep interrupting us, or our minds are preoccupied with all the errands that have to be done. In this case, it is okay to say to the kid “It’s difficult for me to listen to you now because I’m busying cooking, but I’ll be there in 10 minutes.” It’s better to set aside a clear time for communication than to listen half- heartedly or resentfully.

2. Responsibility
Don’t do anything for a child that they should do for themselves. This is a general rule of course. Teaching a child responsibility will have a positive outcome in their school work. Try to put the focus on supporting and encouraging him instead of worrying and/or nagging. As parents, when we assist too much, we rob our children of opportunities to feel the rewards of accomplishment. It is better that at child fail honestly then succeeds through someone else’s work. When talking to children be kind but firm. Try your best to be a parent who is kind, helpful, consistent and firm versus punitive, over-functioning and controlling. For every negative interaction with your child, try to create ten positive ones.

3. Nagging and Giving Multiple Warnings
The child who gets distracted and seems unmotivated to get ready on time is one of the greatest challenges to a busy parent. Many parents feel out of control and try desperately to control the situation by nagging or criticizing. The problem with nagging is that you are actually training kids to ignore you because they know there will be more reminders down the road. While very young kids may need more assistance and instruction, effective parents allow the kids to take increasing responsibility as they grow older.

4. Pay attention to their homework
If your child is struggling with their homework, then they are probably struggling in the classroom too. Homework should be given as a refresher, an extra practice to assist with long- term memory, and an opportunity for you to tutor your child before that subject is addressed the next day at school. Be sure to check your child’s homework regularly.

5. Focus on progress instead of grades
Focus on the progress that your student has made. They might not have got an “A” but was the grade better than they got the previous week? Focusing on progress will help you and your child get a better feeling for their academic strengths and weaknesses, and it will motivate your child to focus on their learning.

6. Support your child’s teacher
It’s natural for a parent to want to defend their child, but you should never try to bully a teacher into giving your child special treatment. If you have disagreements with a teacher, discuss them with the teacher privately. You won’t be doing your child any favors if you’re constantly excusing or justifying bad behavior for them. If your child believes you don’t respect a teacher, neither will the child and their learning will suffer.

7. Make sure your child is alert and well rested
Start the bedtime process one hour before you expect your child to be asleep. Let them help choose healthy food for their meals, and make sure that they bathe regularly if not daily. Baths can help your child unwind from the day and relieve stress from a hard day at school. Thinking requires energy, and good nutrition and rest are the keys to getting the most out of class. Coming to school tired most often than not increases children’s negative behaviors at school as well as at home.

8. Help them see the bigger picture
Remember to always keep the big picture in mind. Rather than overreact about your child’s grades, help her to balance her life with friendships, other activities, volunteer work and family activities. Get involved with her school affairs when you can and take an interest in her school projects.
Your child’s future begins with you. Talk to your child about their strengths and desires. Encourage them to prepare for life by doing all they can today.

Learning with Books - Redwood Family Therapy9. Encourage a work-now-play-later attitude
One of life’s lessons is that we get the goodies after we do the work. When you practice shooting hoops every day, you start making more baskets. You get paid after you work at your job. So start saying things like, “When you finish studying you are welcome to go to Cameron’s house.” Or “When your homework is completed, we can discuss watching that movie you wanted to see on Netflix.” Enforce this rule and stick to it. If your child does not yet have the ability to plan and persevere, by encouraging this attitude, you are helping them learn how to do what their own brain is not yet equipped to do, which is to create the structure for him.

10. Identify a study area
You may need to sit with your child while she’s doing her work or at least be nearby to help her stay on track. She may need a quiet location away from brothers and sisters or she may do better in a room near others. You can help her experiment. Once you find what works best, keep her in that location. You will not do her work for her, but you may need to review her work and ask her if a certain paragraph makes sense to her, for example.

Is there a lack of motivation or is it anxiety?

Finally, recognize that so much of your child’s lack of motivation might be his own anxiety or shame about academics and schoolwork. Most people have anxiety about doing certain things and avoid doing them. Kids may not be able to explain all of this to you because it’s not always on a conscious level for them. Keep your emotions in check by recognizing that it’s your child’s anxiety at play rather than his laziness.

Happy Child - Redwood Family TherapyAlso recognize that sometimes your child’s feelings of shame, inferiority or anxiety can be misinterpreted as a lousy attitude, lack of motivation, and irresponsibility. Often the cover up for these vulnerable emotions can take the form of acting out, shutting down, avoidance, and defiance. Remember that what is happening now may look very different as your child matures and develops. In the meantime, in a positive relationship, help him develop the structure and habits he can’t pull off on his own. And calm yourself by understanding the bigger picture of what is going on now.

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