As parents we are always looking for ways to help our children succeed at school. But now the experts are saying we are trying too hard and we are too involved in our kid’s schoolwork. It does seem to be true, it seems as if kids are more stressed and less responsible. So can we take a step back? I think we can and we should.
Here are some ways we can do just that:
1. Ask responsibility questions:
The first thing that we need to do as parents is to encourage a responsible attitude towards school. One way we can do that is to ask responsibility questions.
So instead of:
“You need to hurry up. The bus is not going to wait all day for you!”
“Do your homework now!”
“How many times do I have to tell you to pack your lunch!”
We might want to try:
“What is the best time for you to wake up so you can get to the bus on time?”
“Where is the best place for you to do your homework?”
“What are some helpful ways to remind you to pack your lunch?”
2. Make sure they own their homework:
Many times we act as policemen when it comes to homework.
We might say:
“You better do your homework or you are not going out to pizza tonight!”
“You need to sit down right now and do your homework or you are never going to get anywhere in life!”
When we say the above we give your children the idea that homework is very important to us adults. That leads them to believe that they are not capable of being in charge of their homework. In the quirky world of child development, we parents have just taken the responsibility for doing homework out of their hands and put it into ours.
Kids can end up thinking, “Hey, my Mom thinks this is a big deal. I am going to let her worry about it and get uptight. That way, I don’t really have to do anything at all.”
So instead, we want to say things like:
“Looks like you are having some trouble getting settled, when do you think would be a good time for you to get your homework done?”
“ We are going out for pizza tonight. How long does it take you to do your homework? Do you think you will be able to join us?
But what if our kid is struggling in school? Should we become more vigilant?
Yes and no. We can try to do the following:
1. Stay calm:
Recognize that you are not solely responsible for your child’s academic success. Don’t take his schoolwork personally.
If your child does come home with a bad grade try to be objective.
Tell yourself: “My son came home with a ‘C’ That is too bad. What is he missing that he needs help with? What can I help him do so that he can succeed and take responsibility for his work?”
2. Don’t Judge:
If your child is struggling in school you don’t want to make them feel worse by judging their performance.
You want to avoid saying:
“You are not trying hard enough. If you just applied yourself you would be able to do better!”
Instead deliver compassion and empathy:
“It seems as if school is not as interesting as it once was for you. Am I noticing that correctly? Is there anything you could think of that would help you enjoy learning more?”
3. Deliver empathy:
Most kids who are struggling in school want to hear:
“You sound frustrated with this work…”
“This math homework seems a bit tricky to you…”
“Something about school is bothering you…”
“You sound like you would like a little more help understanding your science assignment…”
4. Get tested:
Children sometimes will lag behind their peers because of subtle learning differences. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. There are standardized tests that can help pinpoint deficits in learning. This can be invaluable. It is helpful to contact your child’s teacher or principal to find out more about how it is done in your school district.
We all want our children to succeed at school. Let’s take the steps that can help them do just that.