Parents and caregivers often ask, "Should I buy my son this math program I found online?" "Does my son need more tutoring?" Should I enroll him in more afterschool activities?
Sometimes, the answer is YES!! Oh, please YES!! But, sometimes the answer is simpler, yet more impactful long term. Here are some tips to support your child's learning at home and, believe it or not, their success in life. If you're an educator, please support the families with whom you work in implementing these strategies.
Be a Role Model
We've all been frustrated by the fact that kids do what we DO, not what we SAY. Here's a chance to take advantage of that. Children learn from watching us day to day. If you model time management by reviewing the family schedule daily before breakfast, pack yourself a healthy snack for work, put away your cell phone before dinner, schedule a family trip to the library every week to check out a few books, and demonstrate perseverance during hard times, you have sent a stronger message than most conversations you could have with your kiddo.
Eat as a Family
I work with enough families to know that family dinner is not always doable given work schedules and many other factors. Dinner is not the only meal of the day! There's also breakfast. The point? Eat together as often as possible.
To start, research shows eating together is linked to lower levels of depression, substance abuse, and obesity, not to mention the benefits to self-esteem and school grades. It's a perfect time to build the kind of family bonds needed to have trust and open communication. Here are some simple rules for conversation. Trust me, they work. They've been around since way before cell phones. That reminds me, put away that %$#&@ phone while you're talking.
I just remembered, you have to watch this . . . You'll thank me . . .
Give Them Chores and Allowances
Does this sound familiar? "I want you to buy me a ____." Three weeks later, "It broke; I need a new ____."
Give your kiddos chores and an allowance. Why? Sooooo many reasons:
Kids value what they have more if they had to earn it.
Increased self-esteem from knowing they're valuable, contributing members of the family.
They learn life-skills that help them be self-sufficient in adulthood.
Delayed gratification (waiting for rewards) helps build patience. Think about it, most of us work and then receive a paycheck.
They learn the value of teamwork. Each family member has a specific role.
. . . and so much more.
You're a rock-star parent if you combine chores and an allowance with financial literacy. Do your kiddos spend ALL the money they earn or do they learn to SAVE, SPEND, and DONATE? Hint: They'll need to manage their money on their own one day.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE . . . . MY FAVORITE TIP . . . .
Let Them Fail
I know you're a great parent. I know you're a great tutor. You want to help your kiddos as much as possible. Shouldn't that mean training them for life? Let me break it to you. Sometimes life doesn't go as planned. You will fail. You will feel disappointed. You will cry.
First and foremost, kiddos just want to know that you're there and that you care (I didn't mean to rhyme). After that, they need to learn how to cope with stress during hardship. This will help them relate to others during their difficult times (understanding that we've all been there). Finally, what do most successful people have? GRIT. They'll learn the value of hard work and how to get up and try again and again and again.
. . . One more. One more. We can't forget problem solving. Employers love problem solvers, and problem solvers become entrepreneurs. So, win win.
CAUTION: Homes under construction.
And that's a good thing.