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44 Proven Ideas Parents Can Use to Help Their Children Do Better in School

DadSonReadingMaking Time Count

1. Put specific times on your calendar each week when you will spend time with your children. During that time, focus your love and attention on your child.

2. Use car time to talk with your children. There’s no phone or television to interfere. No one can get up and leave. And kids know they really have your ear.

3. Plan to eat at least one meal together as a family each day.

4. Look for things to do together as a family. Get everyone involved in choosing how to spend your time together.

5. Try giving children television tickets. Each week, each child gets 20 tickets. Each ticket can be used for 30 minutes of TV time. Any tickets remaining at the end of the week can be cashed in for 25 cents each. Parents can still veto a certain program, of course.

Reading to Your Child

6. Try relaxing your family’s bedtime rules once a week on the weekends. Let your children know that they can stay up as late as they want, as long as they are reading in bed.

7. Help your child start a home library; paperback books are fine. Encourage your child to swap books with friends. Check used book stores. Give books as gifts.

8. Want your children to be good readers? Let them see you read.

9. Try holding D-E-A-R times at your house. “DEAR” stands for “Drop Everything and Read.” During DEAR time, everyone in the family sits down for some uninterrupted reading time.

10. With young children, try reading to them during bath time.

11. Use the “Rule of Thumb” to see if a book is on your children’s reading level: Have them read a page of the book aloud. Have them hold up one finger for each word they don’t know. If they hold up four fingers and a thumb before the end of the page, the book is probably too hard for them to read alone. But it might be a great book to read aloud.

Building Self-Esteem

12. Have children make a “book” about themselves, with their own illustrations and wording. “A Book About Me” is a great way to help your child see themselves as “somebody.”

13. Help your child discover their roots by talking with family members during holiday and other visits.

14. Constantly look for ways to tell your children what you like about them, and that you love them. There is no age limit on this. “When I do something well, no one ever remembers. When I do something wrong, no one ever forgets.” Those words were written by a high school dropout.

15. Let kids overhear you praising them to others.

16. Try “King/Queen for a Day” for good report cards.

17. Help kids learn from problems, not be devastated by them. Many parents don’t ever use the word “failure.” They may talk about a “glitch,” a “problem,” or a “snag.” But even when something doesn’t work out as they’d planned, successful people try to learn something from the experience.

Discipline

18. In good weather, put two angry kids on opposite sides of a strong window or glass door. Provide each with a spray bottle of window cleaner and a rag. Then let them “attack.” Their angry words will turn to laughter…and your window or door will be clean!

19. Try role playing to eliminate constant fighting. For five minutes, have the fighters switch roles. Each has to present the other person’s point of view as clearly and fairly as possible. Odds are, they’ll start laughing and make up. Better yet, they may come up with a compromise solution that both parties like.

20. For better discipline, speak quietly. If you speak in a normal tone of voice, even when you’re angry, you’ll help your child see how to handle anger appropriately. And if you don’t scream at your kids, they’re less likely to scream at each other or at you.

21. Try a “black hole” to keep toys and other belongings picked up. All you need is a closet or cabinet with a lock—the “black hole.” When something is left out that should be put away, it gets put into the “black hole” for 24 hours. Once a favorite toy or something your child needs is locked up for 24 hours, there is greater incentive to keep it where it belongs. This works best when the whole family participates.

Solving School Problems

22. Try looking over children’s study materials and making up a sample quiz as they study for upcoming tests.

23. Visit your child’s school in a time of peace before major problems develop.

24. Make report cards a positive experience. Preparation: Ask, “What do you think your report card will tell us?” Getting ready is helpful. Perspective: Understand that a report card is just one small measure of your child. A child with poor grades still has plenty of strengths. Positive action: Find something to praise. Focus on how to improve.

25. Be aware that your attitudes about school affect your child. If you hated math, be careful not to prejudice your child.

Motivating Your Child

26. In addition to the three R’s, children need the four A’s: Attention, Appreciation, Affection, and Acceptance.

27. Some researchers believe every child is gifted, if we will just look for the ways. Helping children see their giftedness is very motivating.

28. Encourage children to read biographies about successful people. As children learn about the traits that made others successful, they are often motivated to adopt those same success patterns in their own lives.

29. Motivate your children in math by challenging them to figure out how much change you should get back from a purchase. If they get the amount right, they get to keep the change.

30. Praise children constantly.

Building Responsibility

31. Try a simple cardboard box to help make your children responsible for school belongings. Have them choose a place for the box, perhaps near the door or in their room. Every afternoon, their first task should be to place all belongings in the box. When homework is finished, it goes in the box, too. In the morning, the box is the last stop before heading out the door.

32. Help children understand, and take responsibility for, the consequences of their choices: “I chose to do my homework; the result was that I got an ‘A’ on my math test.” “I chose to get up 15 minutes late; the result was that I missed breakfast and nearly missed the bus.”

33. Try giving your child the responsibility of growing a small garden, even in just a flower pot. The positive and negative results of carrying out their responsibilities are very clear.

34. One way to keep children moving in the morning: After they wake up, begin to play their favorite CD. Give them until the CD plays through to get dressed for school.

Reinforcing Learning

35. Encourage kids to collect things. Whether they collect rocks, shells, leaves, or bugs is not important. By collecting, children are learning new ways to make sense of their world.

36. Estimating is an important math skill. We estimate how much our groceries will cost. We estimate how much time we’ll need to complete a project at work. You can help your child learn to estimate at home. Here’s one idea: As you’re driving, estimate the distance to your destination. Then estimate how much time it will take to get there. Use the odometer or a map to check your work.

37. Talk about geography in terms children can understand: Go through your house and talk about where things came from. A calculator may have come from Taiwan. A box of cereal may have a Battle Creek, Mich., address, or White Plains, N.Y. Talk about where the wheat for your bread came from. Where was the cotton for your blue jeans grown? Tell your children where your ancestors came from. Find the places on a map.

38. Show your child that writing is useful. Have them help you write a letter ordering something, asking a question, etc. Then show them the results of your letter.

Homework

39. Try playing “Beat the Clock” with your child during homework time. Look over the assignment and figure out about how long it should take to complete it. Allow a little extra time and set a timer for that many minutes. No prizes are needed. There is great satisfaction in getting the work done on time.

40. Teach your child to use the formula “SQ3R” when doing any homework assignment. The letters stand for a proven five-step process that makes study time more efficient and effective: Survey, Question, Read, Restate, and Review.

41. Here are tips to make homework time easier for you and your child:

  • Have a regular place for your child to do homework. Use a desk or table in a quiet room. Be sure there’s plenty of light.
  • Find a regular time for homework. You may want to make a rule: “No television until homework is finished.”
  • During homework time, turn off the TV and radio.
  • Help your children plan how they will use their time.
  • Set a good example. While your child is doing homework, spend some time reading or working yourself. Then when homework is done, you can both talk about how much you’ve accomplished.

42. Nitty gritty homework tips:

  • Do the most difficult homework first. Save “easy” subjects for when your child is tired.
  • Do the most important assignments first. If time runs short, the priorities will be finished. Do what’s required first.
  • Finish the optional assignments later, even if they’re more fun.

43. Look over your child’s homework every day. Start at an early age and keep it up as long as you can. Praise good work. Your interest will encourage good work.

44. Try having your child teach you the homework. The teacher always learns more than the student.

Author: Dr. John H. Wherry. 
Source: The Parent Institute.

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Positive Reinforcement or Damaging Declarations?

compliments_graphics_07Good job! Nice coloring! “Good swinging!”

Adoring our children with love and praise couldn’t be a bad thing, could it?

Well, it mostly depends on why we’re doing it. Positive reinforcement with toddlers is practically instinctual. “Good job!” is a phrase my husband and I often exclaimed, usually after our daughter had done something rather benign and developmentally appropriate, but to us was the most brilliant thing in the world.

You know, like when she put on her shoes by herself or her pants – even though they were backwards. It proved an amazing feat of concentration and we just wanted to show her that we were proud of her so that she would know that we loved her no matter what!

Surprisingly, that’s not the totality of what is being conveyed with the use of praise. Good-Job

I don’t mean to criticize the loving intuitive expressions of appreciation and excitement – only to examine the praise we use to manipulate our kids into repeating a desired behavior.

Sure we think it’s great that Sam just shared his toys and it was exciting that Mia cleaned up her room without asking but how we share our appreciation can be tricky.

With general or overused praise – the overriding message that kids hear, see and understand is “People like when I do this and that makes me feel good.”

I know it seems inconsequential. A “Good job eating all your dinner!”  – here or a “You’re such a good girl for helping!”  – there, especially with our young ones, seems innocuous.

Positive reinforcement appears to be the most popular and effective form of toddler discipline, next to distraction – especially when faced with a time consuming search for alternatives to the more assertive discipline methods.

But, studies show again and again that kids who are praised for their behaviors tend to become more hesitant and unsure of themselves, less interested in trying new things, and worse, they actually lose interest in the activity they were previously praised for – once the praise stops coming.

Now I am not suggesting that our children are doomed because we cheered every and every hand-washing and tied shoelace.

But, please consider the very real possibility that children will become less likely to share of their own accord, feel empathy, or continue playing piano, reading or finishing any activity if they are fielding and filing a constant stream of performance evaluations.

More and more research shows that by providing extrinsic motivation we risk decreasing the likelihood that our children will fully develop their own passionate desire or internal motivation. The problem is that when external motivators are offered, children learn to assess their own value and interest on something they can’t control: external rewards and the approval of others.

Judgment, whether positive or negative, creates children who come to rely on that verbal incentive and to look for it unnecessarily for their own self-guidance. It can affect their motivation to take interest in anything wholeheartedly or complete a task without verbal encouragement or tangible rewards.

I do not mean to discount the beneficial aspects of “positive discipline” nor do I mean to bemoan all praise and rewards. To exclaim your heart-felt excitement the first time your toddler puts on her shoes by herself is a perfectly legitimate reaction but to blurt out “Good Job!” as a knee-jerk response to the most negligible of activities (eating, drinking, coloring, jumping, swinging) in hopes [however unconscious] that our children will repeat the desired action in the future is detrimental to their overall ability to learn and self-motivate.

When the praise stops coming, kids stop trying. Eliminate the praise and teach your kids how to find joy and satisfaction in the experience of things, not just the outcomes.

Ask yourself: Are my responses are rooted in love and encouragement or are they self-serving and evaluative?

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When Kids Do Not Get What They Want?

When kids find it hard to get what they want, they go to “fairy land”, where magic and fairies (or other grown-ups) grant them their wishes. Unfortunately, they learn this irresponsible technique from the grown-ups around them. Even parents, when they do not get what they want, go to the “fairy land” of wishing for a winning big money, drawing a big prize and having more luck, so it is really no wonder their kids do exactly the same. They justify their unhappiness as bad luck or blame someone else for it.

Thus it is very important to educate our kids to be a REAL Muslim Kids.

I agree there is some benefit in developing the imagination with wishes and dreams, but it is very important for kids (and parents) to understand we have the responsibility to create our own luck by actively working towards our goals. If kids want to have friends, they need to do something about it. If kids want to be successful at school, they need to do something about it. If kids want to be able to swim, they need to do something about it. When kids do not wait for things to fall from the sky onto their lap and know they have to go actively looking for them, they are empowered. And their parents are there to help them succeed.

EXERCISE

Ask your kids this question:

“If I could help you achieve 3 things in the next 3 months what would they be?”

Let them speak their mind. Listen to their words. This is the time where we can hear more of our child from their inner thoughts, which we parents often neglect. Insya Allah, our kids will be more open when they realize that we acknowledge and respect their say.

happy_kids

TIPS

  1. Adjust the question to the right age. Remember the emphasis is on “helping THEM get what THEY want”
  2. Make sure your kids ask for something THEY want and not something they believe you want to hear. If you suspect this is the case, ask them “Why did you choose this?” or “What will you get if you do this?”
  3. Do not belittle any desire or they will keep some desires away from you
  4. Hold yourself back from doing the job for them. Remember you are not the genie. You are just helping them move towards something they want
  5. Every process of going forward has some setbacks. You want your kids to learn the process. Talk to them about the progress, the movement, the improvement, not about being 100% successful. As long as they are moving forward, they ARE successful
  6. Encourage your kids to write their current goals down somewhere to allow both of you to see them and read them in the next 3 months. If your kids are too young to write, they can draw or cut and paste pictures from a magazine
  7. Remember to write the date on each of the goal statements, drawings and collages and keep them as memorabilia

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