There are plenty of ways you as a parent can help your child to excel in life; academically and socially.
24 June 2015| Last updated on 22 October 2018
1. Reading to your child
- Relax your family's bedtime rule at least once a week; tell your child(ren) that they can stay up as late as they wish, as long as they're in bed and reading a book.
- With younger children, why not read to them during bath time?
- Start a home library! Encourage your child(ren) to swap books with their friends, scour used book stores and even give - and maybe receive - books as gifts.
- Let them hear and see you read, this could be a great opportunity for some extra cuddles before bedtime!
- Introduce activities like "DEAR" or "Rule of Thumb"; DEAR stands for "drop everything and read", so during this time everyone in the family should sit down for some uninterrupted reading time. Alternatively, the "Rule of Thumb" will help you determine your child's reading level. Let them read a page out loud of a new book, for how many fingers hold up reflects how many words they may get stuck on. When they reach the full four fingers and thumb, you know it's a little too difficult.
2. Make time count
- Allocate time in your weekly schedule specifically for your child(ren) and spend some quality time together.
- Make the most out of car journeys with no distractions, no TV, no mobile phones... It's a chance for them to listen, and vice versa.
- Put plans in place to make sure you eat one meal together as a family each day.
- Use "television tickets"; the idea is to give each child 20 tickets, and each ticket can be used for 30 minutes of TV time. Any tickets remaining at the end of the week can be cashed in for pocket money!
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3. Build responsibility
- Give them the opportunity to grow a small garden of their own, even if it's just in a flower pot. Watching the positive and negative results of carrying out their responsibilities of looking after that garden will be very clear!
- Make a "school belongings box"; allocate one box to your child(ren) where they are responsible of storing their school things in safely. The first task is to place all relevant items in there, including completed homework, and the second task is their responsibility of checking that box before leaving for school.
- Encourage the use of sentences like "I chose to do my homework, so I got an "A" on my math test", or "I chose to get up late, so now I missed breakfast". It allows them to recognise and take responsibility for their choices.
- When they wake up, play their favourite CDs while getting ready for school. Good moods all around!
4. Solve school problems
- Look over their school work and create a sample quiz as they study for tests.
- Take the time to visit your child's school in a time of peace and have a chat with relevant persons.
- Make report cards and parent's evening a positive experience; ask them, "what do you think they will tell us this time"? It also helps to prepare them, give perspective and once completed, will provide you with room to give positive action on their strengths, and improve their weaknesses.
- Be mindful that your opinions towards your school will reflect on your child(ren). If you hated maths, ensure not to let that prejudice your child(ren).
5. Instill discipline
- Speak quietly, even when you're angry; it will show them how to control anger appropriately.
- Introduce the dreaded "black hole"; a place in your home, whether it's a cupboard or wardrobe, where things that aren't put away in the correct place are put and they don't return for 24 hours.
- In good weather, give your two angry children one side of a window or glass door and give them a spray bottle with water in, with a rag. Let them relieve some stress and anger by "attacking" the window by spraying. Trust us, they'll be laughing in no time... And clean windows for you, too!
- Try role playing; have the kids fighting switch roles and present the other person's point of view. It might encourage them to come up with a solution to their issue.
6. Help motivate your child(ren)
- Every child is gifted in some way, helping them see these talents will be very motivating for them.
- Encourage them to read biographies about successful people; they may be influenced to adopt traits from their new found idols.
- Challenge their math skills by asking how much change they should get back when shopping. If they get it right = easy pocket money!
- Praise them constantly.
7. Build self-esteem
- Get them to make a book about themselves, with their own drawings and words! "A Book About Me" is a fab way to get them to appreciate themselves and realise they are a somebody.
- Discover your family tree and your child's roots while with other family members.
- Always tell your child exactly what you like and love about them!
- Let them overhear you praising them to others.
- Introduce "King/Queen for a Day" for good school reports; let them pick the evening's activity, choice of meal or breakfast for the next day!
- Help your child(ren) to learn from their problems... Not to be devastated by them.
8. Reinforce learning at home
- Encourage your child(ren) to collect new things! They'll learn new ways to make sense of their world(s).
- Ask them to estimate the cost of things, distance and time.
- Talk about geography in a way they'll understand; talk about where things come from, show them a map, tell them where your family is from.
- Show them that writing is useful; even if it is only to ask a question, to note down things to remember or a shopping list!
9. Homework help
- Implement the SQ3R process when completing homework assignments; survey, question, read, restate, review.
- Introduce "Beat the Clock", which will encourage them to efficiently use their time while completing homework.
- Have a regular, quiet place for our child to do their homework - with plenty of light!
- Plan a regular time for homework, with rules such as "no TV until homework is done".
- During homework time, turn off all distractions including TV, radio, phones and tablets.
- Spend their homework time doing work or reading yourself, that way you can talk about how much you've all accomplished in that time.
- Encourage them to complete the most difficult task first.
- Do the most important homework first, which will also teach them to prioritise.
- Look over their homework every day; praise good work, and your interest will encourage better work.
- Ask your child(ren) to teach you their homework.