Children thrive in structured environments. Your kids need to be on a schedule and have a clear understanding of what is expected of them each day. If left to their own devices, children make childish decisions. Parents need to schedule their children’s time and communicate that schedule in an easy to follow format. This doesn’t mean EVER minute is accounted for resulting in a gulag-like environment. A good schedule should include free time providing a child the opportunity to test their own decision making skills.
1. Structure Does your child have a schedule? Set times for homework, dinner, exercise, reading time, and a set bedtime. Get the TV, computer and video game console out of the bedroom. Place them in a common area and strictly enforce there usage, particularly during the school week. Use them as a reward for completing all academic and reading lessons.
4. Daily Engagement Not a day should go by without some kind of academic stimulation. Especially over the summer break. “Learning” must be a part of a child’s daily life. Just like rolling out of bed, breakfast, and the Disney channel. As parents, it’s our job to monitor and make sure daily academic stimulation becomes part of the schedule.
Are weekends, vacations and summer break time for your kids to unplug from school and relax, watch TV and have fun? If so, you need to reprioritize academic into your young learner’s 365 day schedule.
Equally as important is exercise. Kids who are active will have stronger muscles and bones, be less likely to become overweight, have a better outlook on life and will sleep easier and longer. See below the importance of sleep and learning.
Don’t simply say “go outside and play”. You need to make sure your child is actually being active and not just sitting in the sand box. This is a great opportunity for you to get outside and spend some time with your child and exercise together. Ride bikes, play catch, walk, kick a soccer ball: get out there and connect with your kid.
6. Sleep LIGHT OUTS! It’s time parents understand the correlation between quality sleep and a child’s ability to reason, process and learn. In his book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Marc Weissbluth, MD, provides these insightful comments on the functions of sleep:
“Sleep is the power source that keeps your mind alert and calm. Every night and at every nap, sleep recharges the brain’s battery. Sleeping well increases brainpower just as weight lifting builds stronger muscles, because sleeping well increases your attention span and allows you to be physically relaxed and mentally alert at the same time. Then you are at your personal best.”
Dr. Paul Suratt of the University of Virginia studied the impact of lack of sleep on vocabulary-test scores of elementary-school students. He found those children who did not get the requisite amount of nightly sleep scored significantly lower than their well rested counterparts. According to Dr. Suratt “sleep disorders can impair children’s I.Q.’s as much as lead exposure.” WOW!
OK, so how much is enough? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends children in preschool sleep between 11 and 13 hours a night and school-aged children between 10 and 11 hours of sleep a night.
7. Praise No one likes following the rules without reward. It’s one thing to set out a list of demands for your child but it’s another to praise them when they deliver. Hugs are free and give them generously. Children ultimately want to make their parents happy. When was the last time you told your child he/she made you proud? Or they did a great job on something? Little things do matter to kids. They are constantly absorbing and processing their interactions and parental praise is highly coveted. Become less self absorbed with you and your life and focus more on your child’s efforts, accomplishments and shortfalls.
8. RIF -READING IS FUNDAMENTAL. Studies show the more children read, the better readers and writers they become. And, the better test takers they become. If you can’t read the question, answering correctly is a long shot. As a parent, you know reading is important and you probably feel frustrated if your child doesn’t like to read. Many forces in children’s lives pull them away from reading — television, video games, and after-school activities. But you need to take action and promote the simplistic virtues of a good book.
Talk, Talk, and talk some more. There are many opportunities to talk to your children but dinner and before bed are great times to demonstrate your genuine interest in their lives build strong bonds between the two of you.
Yes, following these steps is a lot of work. But remember, nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy. And, there’s nothing more important than your child. Take our 30 day challenge and try to implement our 10 steps into your own life. We know you’ll see better grades and self confident, self assured young learner.