We all want our children to succeed at school because we know that school lays a great foundation for their future. Parents have the greatest impact on our children’s achievement when support of their learning is received in the home environment. Below is a list of tips that we have compiled to help encourage your children to learn and stay motivated in their schooling life.
Get involved at school
When parents are involved at their child’s school, benefits arise for everyone. The school develops a wonderful parent community that help to support and mold the school into a better environment for everyone. It is not always easy for parents to participate in all school events due to other commitments. At the very least, try to know your child’s teacher. Attending parent-teacher interviews or setting up separate meetings allows you the chance to raise any questions or uncertainties you have. It also raises awareness with the teachers if your child needs any additional support, whether it be academic, social or emotional. Teachers will be able to provide the most valuable insight into your child’s daily life at school and being in communication with them means that you have someone to be your eyes at school and be on the lookout for the best interests of your child.
For teachers and parents, getting to know each other also means that both are in a great position to exchange information about your child. Any issues that arise can be quickly addressed. For your children, seeing their parents take an interest towards their education helps them to develop an optimistic attitude and a sense of pride towards their school.
Show positivity and be active in your child’s learning
Parents’ attitude towards education play an extremely important role in their children’s desire and mindset to learn at school. Being involved in your child’s schooling directly leads to their increased engagement, confidence and enthusiasm to learn. While it is understandable that at times, there may be frustrations for parents when a child is not showing enough desire to learn, it is important to realize that punishing and threatening your children may actually cause a perverse effect to your child’s motivation to learn. A parent’s job is to be there to guide them, shower them with positivity, and assist with any problems they encounter whether it be a friendship issue or a homework issue. Subsequently children feel supported and inspired to do well at school.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”
There is an age-old saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. There is no such thing as being great at something without starting off by making mistakes. As parents, we should always encourage our children to do well, reach for the skies, but let them know that it is absolutely normal to encounter failures and mistakes along the way too. Teach them that failure is not permanent, pick themselves up and make another attempt. They will always have another chance to learn from their mistakes and try again.
Encourage them to talk about their day at school
This can be a hard one for many parents and their children. Younger children often do not remember many details about their day, or often give a vague answer. Older children may be selective in what they want to share, such as only discussing the happy events and omiting anything that didn’t go well in their day. Ask questions that encourage an open dialogue such as what they learnt at school that day, what their favourite part of the day was, as well as asking if there were anything that they didn’t enjoy during the day, what games did they play at sport, who they played with at break time, etc. From their reactions, you can often get a gauge on how their day went overall, opening up opportunities for further conversation.
Read together, do homework together
Oh, the benefits of reading! Research shows that reading to children has a lasting positive effect on a child’s reading and cognitive skills later in life. Reading together encourages children to develop a love of books and also creates an opportunity for some family time amongst everyone’s busy lives.
Be there for your child during homework time, even if for 5-10mins to explain the tasks that need to be completed. Not understanding a homework question leads to the lack of motivation to complete their homework properly. Getting their homework marked as incorrect frequently leads to further issues of not understanding their work. Guiding your child with their homework allows for problems to be solved, discussions to be had, more ideas to be brainstormed, and more learning to be absorbed.
Praising, but be aware of over-praising
Children love to hear positive and encouraging words from their parents. It is a reassurance for them that they are doing well and are pleasing in their parents’ eyes. It boosts their self-esteem and self-confidence. Celebrate all achievements they have made at school, whether it is receiving a sticker in class, or a certificate in assembly. Praises allow your child to create an awareness and association that positive actions leads to positive rewards. However, not all praises are equal. Praises should be given to sustained effort, and not just for a great outcome. Over-praising or ‘inappropriate’ praising (such as praising insincerely) may actually back-fire and inadvertendly lead to the opposite effect whereby children are continuously seeking approval from their parents, become over-confident or subsequently, develop a lack of desire to undertake more challenging tasks in fear of failure.
Praising appropriately falls under a list of methods that is used to encourage your child to develop a growth mindset. Growth mindset, a term coined by researcher, Carol Dweck, is the belief that you can control your own ability through learning and improving. A fixed mindset, on the other hand, is the belief that a person is born with a fixed amount of intelligence, traits and talents and nothing can be done to improve or change it. Children with a growth mindset believe that they have the ability of achieving their goals if they put in effort and hardwork to get there.
Give them an opportunity to play
Not everything is about homework and studies. Give them a chance to be children and play. Play is relaxing, play is fun, and play is also learning. A school day is long enough, especially when after school activities are added in. Making sure that they have a chance to unwind after school each day is worthwhile for them to not be overwhelmed with tasks. It also gives them an opportunity to recharge and de-stress from a busy day.
Create structure for your child
Children need structure. They need to know routines, what is expected of them when they finish school, right up to bedtime. Giving them structure will allow them to be more independent and give them a sense of responsibility as they become famililar with, and take charge of their own routine. Independence, time management, and a great sense of responsibility are all great qualities to have as they progress through school.
Prepare the night before to create less rush in the morning
A rushed morning often involves a lot of nagging, raised voices and even tears. Start the day less rushed and children will feel less stressed when they arrive at school. Set the day up for a good start. Pack school bags the night before with homework books, prepare as much of their school meals as possible the night before, lay out their uniforms (you can even choose your own clothes the night before too). The more you can do the night before, the smoother your morning will be. No one wants to start their day off on a bad note.
As you can see, parental involvement through support and engagement in their child’s education is vital in helping our children stay motivated and learn. Success at school can be defined in many ways. Each family may have their own definition of success depending on what they see as important to them. One family may see top test scores as success, while another family may define success as their child having a friend to play with at lunch time. Ultimately, success at school is when we know that our children enjoy being at school and show an enthusiasm towards learning. Teachers teaching at school, and parents teaching at home; when these two are combined, you give your children the best chance to truly reach their greatest potential.
If you have any other tips you’d like to add, please feel free to add them in the comments 🙂
* If your little one is starting school next year, these posts might be of interest to you: