During my 20 plus years in education, as a classroom teacher and building principal, many parents have asked how they can help their child be more successful. These are some of my suggestions to help a child flourish.
COMMUNICATE. Take time to talk with your child; let your child lead the conversation and really listen to what he/she is saying. Validate what he/she is saying. Not every conversation needs to turn into a lesson, but you can learn a lot about your child and his/her friends just by listening. How many of you have asked your child about his/her day at school only to get the response, “nothing”?
When asking your child about his/her day, raise specific questions. Ask him/her about the project he made in art class, the books the teacher read, what was his/her favorite or least favorite part of the school day.
GET INVOLVED. Find a way to get involved in your child’s education. Visit the school and get to know your child’s teacher and friends. Let the teacher know you want to be involved and the teacher will find appropriate ways for you to help.
PLAY. By play, I mean engaging in an activity with your child that does not involve electronic games. Choose an activity that involves interaction with your child. Be silly, laugh, and just have fun. Take a walk, build a birdhouse or go fishing together. When was the last time you had a tea party, played catch in the front yard, or played a board game like checkers, chess or Battleship?
ESTABLISH A ROUTINE ... and stick to it! Set up a time for your son/daughter to complete homework. While she/he is doing the work, this would be a great time for the parent to make dinner, to balance the checkbook, or to read the newspaper. Another part of a child’s routine is to establish a consistent time for him/her to go to bed and to wake up — including weekends.
COMPLETE CHORES. Give your child jobs to do around the house. Some chores such as sorting socks can help a child learn colors, patterns and shapes. Setting the table can help a child learn about right and left. Feeding a family pet teaches responsibility. Having regular duties will give your child the opportunity to learn independence.
HELP OTHERS. Show your child the importance of giving back by lending a helping hand. Remember, part of giving is not always about money. Is it possible to help shovel a neighbor’s driveway, rake leaves for someone, make cookies for a sick friend, visit a nursing home, donate outgrown clothes to a shelter or offer your time?
EAT TOGETHER. Make time to have at least one meal together each day. Even with busy schedules, try to establish a time when the entire family can sit down and be together. It is a great time to make lasting memories.
READ. From my perspective, if all of the other suggestions don’t seem to fit your schedule, the number one way you can help your child is to READ, READ, and READ some more! Make time to read something with your child everyday and allow him/her to see you reading.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.