This was supposed to be my first post of 2016, and I guess it technically is. Between the start of a new semester in school, my mom’s foot surgery, and M̶a̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶a̶ ̶M̶u̶r̶d̶e̶r̶e̶r̶ having walking pneumonia, the month of January was one big DayQuil/NyQuil blur. This will work to our advantage though because being a month into 2016, many people are either ditching their resolutions or well on the way to establishing good habits to change. Weight loss, budgeting (or so my husband tells me every year) and reading goals (mine is to read less bad essays) top the resolution charts and are worthy areas in our lives to improve. But what about goals related to your child’s education? Here are some suggestions to ponder for 2016.
Talk to your students about learning more than grades – As college admissions has become more difficult, grades have become more important. Sadly, grades do not always reflect learning but rather reflect a student’s ability to follow directions and comply. Hold that thought as I will definitely write more about grades this year. Be proactive at home about asking your students what they are learning and help students figure out how learned knowledge can make a difference in their lives. Model lifelong learning as well by reading and discussing what you are learning.
Teach students how to advocate for themselves – I teach seniors and still have parents email asking about student work – SENIOR PARENTS! Most of these students drive and have jobs, but their parent will ask questions about an assignment that’s due or missing work. The best way to prepare your child for their next step is to let them take control over their school life, and this can start as early as elementary school. Of course, if a child is sick or has extenuating circumstances, please advocate for them; otherwise, butt out! Encourage students to speak with teachers when needed. I know some of you are thinking, “well, you don’t know my child’s teacher” to which I say “actually, I probably do or it may even be me.” Even so, life is full of uncomfortable conversations and difficult personalities and your child needs experience in these areas while under your roof so you can help them navigate these tricky waters.
Model healthy schedules to students – I wake students up every day and hear talk of students staying up all hours of the night – literally! Do you know how much sleep your child is getting on average? This may be a conversation worth having in your home. One of our nameless children (the oldest who is a well-adjusted adult at the moment) got into a bad habit of leaving her phone on and sending and receiving texts during the night. We were quite convinced that this would conflict with her doing her best at school and that she was just not mature enough to recognize the importance of sleep. So her phone stayed on the kitchen counter every school night for at least a year until she matured. This extends to being overcommitted, making time for exercise, and being disciplined enough to schedule family meal times and we as parents must model balanced lifestyles for our students. How can we expect our children to strive for balance if we are living without any margin in our lives?
Allow students to make mistakes – This may be the hardest part of parenting, but we must let our students learn by making mistakes. Students don’t learn from a parent bailing them out of difficult circumstances; often students will just continue to make mistakes until one day when there is no parent there to rescue. Be there to support your student when he or she makes a mistake and coach them on learning from mistakes and moving forward after a mistake. This is much more valuable than enabling poor choices and bad behavior.
So 2016 has started, but it is not too late to make some intentional decisions about raising good students. Be proactive and make this the best school year yet!
What is one thing you can do to help your student be more successful in school this year?