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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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5 Tips to Teach Kids to Keep Track of Their Time

timeKids who manage their own time do better in school.

Managing time is an important skill kids need to be successful in school—and at home. (After all, they need to get their homework done on time!) Experts have found that kids who know how to manage their own time—who have what’s known as “self-discipline” — are more successful in life, whether it’s in college or a career. In fact, kids who have self-discipline have an even better chance at school success than kids with a high IQ!

But most kids need help learning how to manage their time. The good news is that time management is a skill that can be taught and learned. Here are a five ways to help your child learn time-management skills:

Create a family timeline
Use a long strip of paper to create a timeline for the entire family. Allow each child to write down an important experience of every year of his or her life, like “Started kindergarten,” “Lost my first tooth,” “Get our pet cat.” This exercise will help kids get a clear sense of time over the years.

Make an “On time” sheet
On a sheet of paper, write down a basic timeline of your child’s school day:
7:00 a.m. – Wake up
7:30 a.m. – Be dressed and downstairs for breakfast
8:00 a.m. – Leave for school
3:00 p.m. – School’s out!
6:00 p.m. – Homework is finished
7:00 p.m. – Dinner
8:00 p.m. – Bedtime
Post the sheet on the refrigerator or your child’s bedroom wall – anywhere your child will easily see it. This will give kids a sense of their day, and also helps them be more aware of time. (And since their schedule is all written down, you might have fewer arguments about when it’s time to get to school, do their homework, sit down to dinner, and go to bed!)

Cut down on screen time
Television is one of the biggest time-sucks for kids (and, admit it, for adults too). Decide with your child how many hours of television she’ll watch per week. Read the TV guide aloud with her and discuss which programs she can watch, have her circle the shows, and then keep the marked-up guide next to the television. If she’s watching too much TV, have her cut back the first week, then more the following week. This makes her more aware of how much time is spent in front of the tube, teaches her to take responsibility for screen time, and might even open up her schedule for other fun activities.

Use a chore chart
This is an especially good exercise for kids who need to learn to manage their own after-school time. Have your child create a chart and fill in all of his responsibilities, like setting the table at 5:30 p.m. or doing homework at 7:30 p.m. (Or download and print out our Chore chart). Then have him check off each task when he’s done.

Use a homework chart
Have your child make a homework chart and list assignments for Monday through Friday. (Or download and print out our Homework chart.) After she’s finished each assignment, she can put a check mark next to it. This teaches children how to keep track of deadlines and duties.

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Twelve Ways to Build your Child’s Self-Esteem

children-are-made-readersSelf-esteem is a very important ingredient for a successful and happy life. A person can be blessed with intelligence and talent but if he or she lacks self-esteem, this can be an obstacle in achieving success in a job, a relationship and in virtually every area of life.

The early years of a child’s life are the foundation for a positive self-esteem.

As parents, we cannot control everything our child sees, hears or thinks, which will be contributing to his or her self-image. But there is still much that we could do. We have the child at the earliest years of his life; G-d has given us a special gift–a new human being with a “clean slate.” During those early years, what goes into the child’s mind is very impressionable. Parents are therefore provided with a unique, never-to-be-repeated opportunity to set up a “self-esteem bank account” in which the child will store many positive things about him or herself. In the years and decades to come, this “bank account” will balance out negative experiences, which are unavoidable.

So how do we endow our child’s bank account? How can we, as parents, build up our child’s self-esteem? The following are some suggestions:

  1. Show love and affection to your child. All our dealings with our children, starting from infancy, should be done with a lot of affection and love. A baby who was dealt with love and affection will get a subconscious feeling that s/he is worthy and important enough to be loved.
  2. Compliment your child. Give your child compliments as often as possible, whenever they do something right. Say, “I am very proud of you. You are very special. I like the way you have done it.”
  3. Make your compliments credible. It is important, however, that the compliments be credible. Exaggerated compliments like, “You are the best in the world. You are the nicest person that ever lived” can actually be counter-productive. The child will develop an inflated ego, and that can affect his relationship with friends, which in the long run will have a negative effect on his or her self-esteem.
  4. Set goals for your child. The goal should be something attainable–to get dressed by herself, to get a certain mark on his next test. Set goals that are suited for the child’s age and capabilities (setting a goal which is unattainable will have a negative effect). As the child works toward the goal, coach her along and compliment her success each step along the way. Once the child reaches the goal, compliment her achievement and reinforce her self-image as an achiever.
  5. Criticize the action, not the person. When the child does something negative, say to the child, “You are such a good and special child, you should not be engaging in such an activity,” instead of saying, “you are a bad child.”
  6. Validate your child’s feelings. When your child suffers a blow to his self-esteem, it’s important to validate his feelings. For example, if the child gets offended by a hurtful comment made by a friend or a teacher, say to the child, “Yes, you were offended by what that person said” or “you were offended by the fact that the other person doesn’t like you.” Only after the child feels that his feelings have been validated will he be open to you bolstering his self-esteem by pointing out the people who do like him, and the positive things that others have said about him.
  7. Be proud of your child. On a regular basis, we must remember to tell the child how fortunate and how proud we are to be her parents.
  8. Talk positively about your child in the presence of important people in his life, such as grandparents, teachers, friends etc.
  9. Never to compare your child to others, saying, “why aren’t you like Johnny?” When such comparisons are made by others, reassure your child that she is special and unique in her own way.”
  10. Make sure that others dealing with your child know your child’s strengths. At the beginning of the school year, speak with your child’s teachers and tell them what your child’s special strengths are and about the areas in which he or she excels, so that the teacher will have a positive outlook towards them and will continue to build on those strengths.
  11. Tell the child on a regular basis that you will love them unconditionally. When they fail, or do the wrong thing, remember to say to them, “You are special to me, I will always love you, no matter what!”
  12. Tend to your own self-esteem. You need to see yourself in a positive light. Parents who lack self-esteem will have difficulties bringing up a child with a high self-esteem. A good positive parent is a parent who knows that he or she is not perfect but values him or herself, while always trying to grow and improve.
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Discovering Our Children’s Interests

“We labor under a sort of superstition that the child has nothing to learn during the first five years of life.  On the contrary the fact is that the child never learns [afterwards] what it does in its first five years.”     – Mahatma Gandhi, 1925

son kiss mumI was reading the Great Parent Magazine sometime ago, – Dr. Stanley Greenspan, the wonderful child researcher, developed an infant assessment process he called “Floor Time.”  The parents and the young child would sit on the floor with Dr. Greenspan, and he would observe the child and the child-parent interactions.  He then began to realize that a variant of this process could be used to enhance the parent-child relationship.  He suggested that for about fifteen minutes a day parents get onto the floor with their child and allow the child to direct the activities.  The parent becomes a benign assistant.  This is the time for the child to show the parent what she wants to do, what interests her, and what she feels.

“Floor time is a warm and intimate way of relating to a child,” says Dr. Greenspan.  “It means engaging, respecting and getting in tune with the child in order to help the child express through gestures, words, and pretend play what is on the child’s mind.  This enhances the child’s self-esteem and ability to be assertive, and gives the child a feeling that ‘I can have an impact on the world.’  As you support the child’s play, the child benefits from experiencing a sense of warmth, connectedness and being understood.”

All of this promotes the notion of listening to the child.  Listening to the child gives the child the sense that he is valued, that what he thinks and feels and is interested in counts for something.  This in turn enhances the child’s self-esteem.

So, let’s get back to the issue of interest.  Listening to and validating what the child is interested in pays huge dividends throughout the child’s life.  If the child is made aware that  his/her interests are important, the child then can more clearly identify genuine likes and dislikes, leading more readily to choices of career, spouse, and so on.  It is a sad occurrence, but not infrequent, to have patients at 30 or 40 or 50 years old say they do not know what they want to do or what they are interested in.  They did not have the opportunity early in life to learn that what really counted was what they were interested in.

Technically, the key component here is the affect of interest, as we have discussed previously.  Interest operates on a continuum from interest (or its close cousin, curiosity) to excitement.  As psychologist Silvan Tomkins says, “It is interest which is primary.  Interest supports both what is necessary for life and what is possible.”  Interest is responsible for our learning, exploratory activities, and creativity.

To summarize, listening to the child’s feelings gives tremendous benefits.  Interest can be promoted early on in children – listening to them, finding out the things they are intrigued with and enjoy.

What a gift!

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10 Ways to Send a Clear Message to Your Teenager

mom_talking_teen_

A sure-fire way of inviting problems into your relationship with your teenager is by sending mixed or unclear messages. Clear communication is an absolute must if you want to have a bonding relationship with your teenager. It helps build a foundation of trust, fosters a healthy self-esteem, encourages positive behavior and helps tone down frustration and stress in the family.

While many parents feel it is close to impossible to have a conversation with their teenager, there are ways. Your child really isn’t becoming a new special breed of alien. They’re just growing up and they still do want to connect with you. Try these tips to get, and keep, the conversation rolling in your home:

  1. Use your active listening skills and watch out for those door slammers.
  2.  Talk often with your teen to bring out positive opinions, ideas, and behaviors by using an affirmative tone and body language.
  3.  Treat your teenager with the same respect you would have them treat you. Say ‘hi’, ‘I love you’, ‘how was your day’, etc.
  4. Your tone of voice is extremely important. Yelling simply doesn’t work. The loud noise will shut down the listener (your teen) and you will not get through. If you feel the need to yell, ‘time out’ of the conversation until you have better control.
  5.  Be precise and detailed about what you expect. Write it down and use an Action Plan if you feel there is a need.
  6. If you’re giving your teenager instructions, write them down. It’s a fail-safe for teens and adults. This way they will remember what they are expected to do and you can feel sure that you ‘told’ them correctly. Remember, to-do lists will keep you stress free.
  7. Do things together one-on-one and with the whole family. Good times often bring about great conversations, and wonderful memories.
  8. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ doesn’t work. Modeling is the best way of learning. You are your teenager’s model and they will emulate your behaviors.
  9. Never shut your teen out to show that you disapprove of their behavior. If you need time before you can talk to them about something that has upset you, tell them that you need time. Don’t walk away silent.
  10. “Because I said so” actually works when you are being pulled into a power struggle in discipline situations. You are the parent, and because of this, you do have the final say. Teenagers know this and trust you because of it. But do try to explain your reasoning whenever possible.

Source: http://parentingteens.about.com