The key to raising a well-rounded child is to give that child a solid support system at home so that he/she is able to excel at whatever they set to do. Susan Stiffelman, an educational therapist and author of Parenting Without Power Struggles (2009) says that the goal of parents should be to help their children feel “competent and confident”, and help them “develop a sense of passion and purpose.” Stiffelman also talks about the kind of education that a children should be given by parents before they get into school. She describes this as an important step in bringing up children well.
If you have not yet taken your children through this kind of education, it is not too late to do so. All you need is consistency, dedication, time and patience and eventually, your child’s learning abilities, academic performance and social skills will be boosted.
You should consider among other things, these six techniques if you want to raise a child who is well- balanced, healthy and prepared mentally and physically to acquire knowledge in school.
- Identify, Encourage and support special skills of your children
Every child has unique gifts which will die with a part of the, when it is not encouraged. Some of these talents manifest in class settings while others manifest out of the class. Stiffelman advises parents not to “underestimate the power of unstructured play”. Football, ludu, oware, ampe, hopscotch, treasure hunt, musical chairs, basketball and others provide opportunities for intellectual, physical and personal development of children.
To encourage children to try new things and in the process find their gifts and talents, Stiffelman suggests to parents to find hobbies or try new things in order to inspire their children to do same.
- Respect and Nurture Your Child’s Learning Style
As established in our article on types of learning, someone may be able to study in a noisy environment while others can only study in very quiet environments. Your child may not necessarily belong to the same learning style group as you. A researcher at Harvard, Howard Gardner identified eight ways children learn best. Some of these eight are musical, logical-mathematical, linguistic, and interpersonal traits. The catch here is therefore to pay attention to how your child learns best so you can identify her specific learning style and
encourage it. Click here to know the various types of learners. But an example is this, if your school-age child is a visual learner, consider using flash cards when she’s trying to memorize the multiplication table.
- Balance Bedtime
In 2005 researchers at Tel Aviv University found that missing just one hour of sleep can be enough to reduce a child’s cognitive abilities by almost two years the following day. The importance of sleep cannot be over emphasized. It will be very beneficial for parents to establish bedtime routines for their children and follow it. These routines can be to turn off the television or laptop every day at 8pm and tell stories. If your child owns a phone, you could turn it off at a certain time too and keep it. Research has also shown that 62% of children admit that they use their phones past their bedtime after their parents put them to bed. Their parents are unaware of this. Again, research shows that students especially between the ages of 6 and 10 who lose sleep before a big exam could end up under-performing. Think of other helpful routines and incorporate them.
- Cultivate A Reading Habit in them at an Early Stage
There is nothing like it being too early to start having story time with your child. Imbibe the habit in them early enough. Reading to toddlers, pre-schoolers and keeping books at home encourages language development, reading skills, and future success in school. Susan M. Heim, author of Its Twins! Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy through Adolescence (2007) posits that “Even if your child is still too young to understand everything you’re saying, he will learn to notice the rhythms of language, which will help him build a listening vocabulary, “Reading to children also helps them emotionally. Children who were read to, had less behavioral problems in school.
- Applaud and Appreciate Their Efforts
A person’s mind- set can greatly influence his/her behavior. Research conducted by Carol Dweck, PhD., a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and a leading researcher in the field of achievement and success, did a study that arrived at this conclusion. To parents, she suggest that they praise children for their good deeds and actions rather than label them as “smart” or “talented” or “lazy” This is because people with fixed mind sets as a result of these labels are usually very reluctant to take up challenges or do new things because they believe that these labels are innate. So rather, than call them smart, tell them their actions are smart or otherwise. People trained with these mind sets are always eager to grow and more willing to take up challenges that will earn them a praise. So parents are urged to appreciate and applaud their growing children “appropriately”.
- Prepare or Eat Together
Informal Discussions at table or while performing a family activity lets your child know what value you uphold as a parent. These informal discussions, include, how their day went at school, what topic is being taught in Math, How it is going, What club they belong to etc. will expose your child to the value and premium you place on learning, or good behavior. A study conducted by Columbia University showed that children who eat at least five meals a week with their families are more likely to perform better in school – they want to have good reports to present at table – and are less likely to develop eating disorders. It may not be dinner but breakfast or a snack. Whatever it is, find a time where you can sit together as family and review the day’s activity.