The United States educational system doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence these days. All recent studies point to us lagging behind many other industrialized nations in all sorts of educational categories, and the continuous budget cuts due to the recession aren’t going to help our children in any way. It’s up to us as parents to make sure our kids succeed in life, and it starts with their education. But the increased class size and lowered budgets and expectations mean we’ll have to become even more active if we want our kids to have every opportunity. And it must start at home. There’s only so much that the teachers can do, and parents must fill in the gaps. Here are five of the top tips you can use to help your kids thrive in school.
Healthy habits are the key to peak performance. It’s easy enough to see. When you eat fast food or garbage snacks, you feel lethargic and unfocused. When you eat a healthy meal, you have abundant energy. The same goes for your children. Do your best to keep their nutrition balanced. Set a bedtime that insures they’re not going off to school tired, and limit the distractions of television, the internet and video games in their lives. That will create the foundation for everything else to follow.
If at all possible, set a designated space for your child to work at home. You have an office, and at school they have a desk, and usually a locker or bin they can keep their supplies in. Set them up with something similar at home, and allow them to make it their own. They’ll be much more excited about doing their homework, and more willing to spend time in a space that’s dedicated to their educational success.
Inspire them to read as much as possible. Reading is one of the keys to thriving at school. It’s the principal way that we learn new information, and it sparks the mind to think in unique directions. They’ll spend their first few years at school learning to read, but the process isn’t finished there and then. Try to read at home yourself, so your children can see that it’s something you enjoy doing, and actually choose to do when you have time. And read with them each day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Make it fun, and don’t get too hung up on their pronunciation. They’ll work on that at school, but the passion for reading will most often come from home.
Look for non-traditional learning experiences. A child won’t learn if he doesn’t want to, and as parents we can instill a passion for learning by incorporating it in non-homework situations. Teaching your child to cook is a great example. It involves science, math and following directions, but also creates a tangible result they can enjoy. Take them to beautiful buildings to show them how art can develop into architecture, and if you play a musical instrument, share that with them as well.
Finally, you must have an expectation that your child will succeed. Of course, not everyone learns the same way. Some kids end up going to traditional colleges, while others can thrive earning an online masters degree. There is no one way to go about it, but you should always expect your child to give it their best effort. Let them know you only want them to be the absolute best they can be, and congratulate them on every accomplishment. That won’t guarantee excellence, but it will certainly increase the chance they take their education seriously, and push beyond their comfort zone. And that is exactly what it takes to thrive in the modern educational system.