Anyone who follows parenting memoirs has probably read, or at least heard of, the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, which was released back in 2011. It was a controversial book that advocated the strict supervision of a child’s education, which, it argued, is the best way for your child to reach their fullest potential.
The controversy stems from the magnitude of strictness that Amy Chua suggested; the methods suggested varied from a near-constant ‘hovering’ around your children to ensure that they did their homework perfectly to frequent volunteering for their school in order to be around them more often and to keep in ongoing contact with several teachers in order to assess progress.
While parents placing a high value on their children’s schooling is definitely admirable and beneficial, studies have suggested that the approach of the “tiger mother” may not be all that useful. There’s little, if any, evidence that suggests this approach actually improves grades and other metrics of school performance. (Which isn’t to say the book isn’t worth a read!)
Unfortunately, this approach is often what an involvement in your child’s education is taken to mean. But the choice at your feet in this context isn’t between total passivity and uninvolvement on one hand and unceasing hovering on the other. There are a lot of better ways in which you can become more involved in your child’s education and get them to improve their performance by increasing their own engagement. We’re going to take a look at some of the key ways in which you can help encourage your child towards academic success!
Keeping up good attitudes
If kids don’t have they right attitude towards their schooling, then it can be very difficult to get them to become really engaged and positive about it – and that can be very damaging in the long run. Many parents may see the improvement of a kid’s attitude towards school as a lost cause. After all, how many of us really loved school all that much? Some say school days are the best days of your lives, but there’s no way that can be true, right?
Loving school and having a good attitude towards it are two very different things. A key to the development of a good attitude for your child towards school is for you to have a good attitude towards the whole endeavor. This can be difficult; if a kid happens to be struggling at school, it can be easy for parents to feel discouraged and frustrated. But you should remember that enthusiasm can be contagious.
You should communicate to your children that paying attention and doing your best at school while you’re young will pay off loads in future. School won’t last forever; in fact, it’s over before you really know it. There will be loads of time to complain about school once it’s over; but when you’re there, you should do the best you can.
A good attitude isn’t always fostered through these abstract means, however. Sometimes, a bad attitude can be attributed to physical issues.
Health and mood
Your health and mood at any given moment has a massive impact on your productivity and ability to retain information. This is true throughout life, and is probably something with which you’re already quite familiar. If you didn’t sleep that well last night, then your work performance is going to suffer at least a little. If you’re feeling ill, then you basically have no chance of getting any serious work done. And if your mood is low – which can be exacerbated by other health problems – then your ability to concentrate is shot.
We tend to become accustomed to these realities during adulthood; after we’ve left school and entered the daily grind of the workforce, we notice the ways in which our health and mood affect our professional abilities. The same goes for academic abilities; unfortunately, we often don’t realize this when we’re kids.
So the importance of a good night’s sleep, as well as a healthy diet, should never be underestimated. While there are many differing views on just how much sleep a child should get, it’s estimated by most that kids perform at their best when they sleep for around nine or ten hours between 6-12, and eight to ten between 13-18. (As we reach young adulthood and midlife, many of us don’t tend to need quite so much.) Despite the common view that children are perpetually loaded with energy, they tend to get very tired in the middle of the day much quicker than adults. No late nights for the kids, then!
As for diet, you’re going to hear something you’ve probably already heard a million times before: breakfast is important. While eating something is always better than eating nothing before school, there are definitely things that are much better for your child’s mood, fitness, and concentration than a bowl of sugary cereal – the most popular breakfast for kids across the globe. Make sure they eat something with a little bit more punch when it comes to keeping up good health!
Rewards and fun
Do we want to foster the attitude that all things worth doing will come with huge material rewards? No. But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t teach our kids that rewards can come through hard work. Academic achievements should be rewarded in some way – after all, while it’s good for kids to realize that not all work worth doing will be rewarded in the same way, the fact remains that kids, while they’re kids, perform better when they have a strong and tangible incentive.The
So what kind of rewards are best for a kid who’s doing well at school? If you want to provide them with a physical gift, you might want to consider getting something personalized or engraved. Businesses like I Just Love It offer these sorts of items. Unique markings, words, or photos can help make the gift feel a lot more personal and special; it also makes it more likely that they’ll keep the gift for a very long time, which will serve as a powerful reminder of the rewards of academic achievement in the long term.
You can also consider celebrating academic achievements by treating the whole family to a trip of some kind. But an element of fun shouldn’t just be confined to moments of achievement. The fact is that all work and no play really does dull your thinking. If you don’t take breaks, then you’re not going to be working at your fullest capacity either professionally or academically. So your kid may just have an excuse to spend some time playing video games – as long as it serves as a break from studying and homework!
Reading is a wonderful thing for both parents and kids. It sharpens your thinking (its depth and clarity), it expands your vocabulary, it helps you recognize good sentences and arguments. It’s a habit that your kids should get into while they’re young, and it’s something that they should come to enjoy outside of the classroom. A lot of kids end up being put off by reading because they only associate it with academic work. This isn’t ideal, especially when you consider the lifelong benefits that come from reading whatever age you are.
Because it has such great educational benefits in and of itself, and because it can help prepare your kid your information retention in the classroom, it’s essential that you read with your child on a regular basis. People should read because they take joy in it. People who love to read throughout their lives often have very good and meaningful memories from childhood associated with reading. When you read with your child, you contribute to this essential part of their lifelong development.
Whatever will be will be
At the end of the day, getting too involved or strict in your child’s schooling can have detrimental effects. It can increase pressure on your child to perform well, and that pressure seems to be increasing from year to year as it is. To some extent, your child needs to learn for themselves the rewards of good academic work and the consequences of poor performance. This means that it’s not always prudent to reward them every time they do well and punish them when they don’t.
As we get older, the positives of a job well done and the negatives of a job done badly become less and less apparent (usually until it’s too late). While we can guide our children towards a quicker realization of these important facts, the best way that such lessons will stick with them is if they see all of this first-hand at a young age.
Here’s another mistake that parents often make in this area: they may not punish their child or withhold certain treats when they don’t perform well at school, but they may take action to try to smooth out the bumps that come with that poor performance. For example, they may try to convince their child’s teacher to give them a higher grade that they didn’t actually earn. Unfortunately, this sort of approach will turn a child into a very dependent and passive learner. Learning should be an active activity, one that comes with several unpleasant bumps when mistakes are made. Shielding children from every consequence of poor academic performance won’t be that great for them in the long run.