It sounds odd, but it’s true. It takes time to find time. Spend an hour reviewing your family’s schedule. Does it reflect your priorities? If family comes first, for example, are you spending more time with family than anywhere else? Can you cut back on activities that interfere with your goals? This can be tricky, but remember that although they might not admit it, kids want time with their parents more than material things.
Monday, July 20, 2015
There is more to reading than sounding out words. Children bring their experiences to what they read. A sentence such as “Sam touched a prickly cactus,” will mean much more to a child who has seen and felt a cactus. So, fill your child’s life with new experiences. Help him learn the words for the things he sees in the world around him. The more vocabulary he experiences, the better he’ll understand what he reads.
Your actions are more important to your child’s success than your income or your education. Some of the most important things you can do to help your child achieve include: Talking often and openly with her and listening to her worries. Setting an example of the life you want her to live. Staying in touch with her teachers about her progress. Taking advantage of community resources, such as after-school activities.
Having friends at school can add to a child’s enthusiasm for education. But making new friends isn’t always easy. Remind your child that when looking for friends, it often helps to make the first move. Encourage your child to say “hi” and show an interest in other people. He might ask others to eat lunch or study together. Then he can share stories about what he’s seen or done so people can get to know him better.
TV doesn’t have to shut off family conversation. “Half-hour” TV shows are typically 22 minutes of program and eight minutes of commercials. Use those eight minutes to ask your child to think critically about what you’re watching. Does she think the characters and settings are realistic, or not? Does the plot make sense? What other choices could the characters have made?
In order to take responsibility for their actions, children must learn that actions have consequences. Sometimes they are natural—for example, the natural consequence of not studying is failing a test. At other times, parents must impose a logical consequence that corresponds to the action—like requiring a child to earn the money to replace a lost library book. Allowing your child to experience consequences is setting him up for success.
There are lots of “right” books for your child. They just need to be well-written. Most importantly, they need to appeal to your child. When choosing, look for strong plots and well-developed characters. While most of the words should be familiar to your child, it’s OK to pick a book that is a little beyond her ability. You can read it to her now, and she can read it to herself later.
Whether your child is deciding which sweater to wear or whether or not to go along with the crowd, these four steps will make his decision-making process easier: 1. Stop and think before making choices. 2. Identify all the possibilities. Sometimes kids think there are only two choices when there are many more. 3. Consider the consequences of each option. 4. Consider your family’s values.
Monday, July 6, 2015
The truth is, children usually do what we expect of them. That’s why having high expectations for your child is so important. Research shows that parents’ expectations can motivate students to do well in school. On the other hand, say things like “You’ll never amount to anything,” and your child will likely do that, too. Tell your child you are counting on her to learn, behave, be kind and give schoolwork her best effort.
Meaningful conversations with your child are hard to schedule; they happen when they happen. But there are things you can do to encourage them. Many children prefer to talk while they are doing other things. Find the time when your child is most likely to open up: while doing dishes, for example. Use this time to have a conversation. Ask concrete questions such as, “What happened next?” or “Who else was there?”
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Discipline is serious business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a sense of humor about it. Humor can diffuse a tense situation, motivate your child to act appropriately, and even see the error of her ways. For example, instead of sending a foot-stamping, cookie-begging first grader to her room, join her in her protest. Stamp and demand every sweet possible. She’ll probably forget all about her meltdown.
Geoboards can help kids learn basic geometry. To make one: On a 12-inch square piece of wood, hammer 10 rows of 10 nails about one inch apart. Give your child a variety of rubber bands in different sizes. Ask him to stretch rubber bands around the nails to answer questions, such as: Can you make a triangle? How many triangles can you make? What is the largest square you can make?
Thursday, July 2, 2015
Give your child the key to this secret code and get set for a summer of sleuthing fun. Assign each letter of the alphabet a consecutive number. A is 1, B is 2, C is 3 and so on. Then write your child a message in number code and ask her to respond. What will she say to this idea? Probably something like “20-8-9-19 9-19 6-21-14! (This is fun!)”
Do your family’s summer plans include travel? Add some learning by including your child in the planning. You can ask him to research things you might see on your trip. Or give him a map and a highlighter and ask him to mark the route you will travel each day. Keep math facts fresh by having him calculate the distance in miles. Then let him choose an audio book that your family can listen to in the car.
Every child needs to feel capable and appreciated. Family gatherings on holidays, such as the 4th of July, are great occasions to boost your child’s sense of accomplishment. If she is learning to cook, serve a dish you have made together. If she’s learning to read, make some time for her to read to Uncle Steve. Asking your child to demonstrate a new skill will show her you value what she is learning.
It takes time to help your child develop an internal sense of right and wrong, but it is time well-spent. Help him learn to make good choices by taking advantage of teachable moments as they occur in your lives. For example, if your car door scratches another car, tell your child, “Since no one saw that, I could just drive away. But I’m going to leave a note for the car’s owner. Taking responsibility is the right thing to do.”