Managing our children’s education is anything but easy. We need to be encouraging without being overbearing, we need to be present and supportive without getting in the way of creative freedom. How do we help shape those young minds and give them the skills that will make school a pleasure rather than a chore? How do we lay a good foundation which they can build upon and become successful people later in life? While this process is long and intricate, there are luckily a few tips that can aid you and help you be there for your kid in exactly the way they need you.
Give them books early on
Literacy development is the most important skill your child will need, and it should be introduced early on. But rather than just teaching them how to read, let them fall in love with books. Read to them in their infancy, give them huge, colorful books with plenty of animals and tactile pieces to move around when they’re toddlers, and introduce them to children’s novels a few years later. Teach them that books aren’t just words on paper, they are doors to adventure, to unimaginable worlds and treasures.
Not just in their education, but their personal lives as well. Look, it’s going to be really boring at times. They’re going to focus on something, like a video game, or an action hero, or ballerinas, or something entirely strange, and they’re going to want to talk about it. All the time. And yes, you will have to sit there, smile, nod, and listen about how cool pirates are for the tenth time that week. But this little bit is important because it shows them that not only do you love them but that you like them and find them interesting, that you encourage their passions. It creates this incredible bond of trust that will make them always want to be honest with you.
Let them know it’s okay to stumble
Rather than teaching them that anything other than success is unacceptable, teach them instead how to deal with failure, how to keep going even when they’ve stumbled. Falling behind in English class because they just can’t grasp the reading material? Tell them that it’s okay and sit down to figure it out together. Perhaps working with a professional is the solution, so consider English tutoring for your child – show them that getting help when you need it is always a great idea. They need to learn how to pick themselves up when they fall and keep pursuing their goals without crippling anxiety and fear of failure to make them give up.
Be okay with their limits
We really wish they were, but not all children will be born as geniuses without limit. You’ll have an artsy child who keeps wrestling with math, or you’ll have a sports wiz who hates his history classes. Or maybe your child will have a disability and learning will be a big challenge in general. And that’s okay. It’s one thing to push them so they can reach their potential, but an entirely different thing to push them past their limit. You will get frustrated with them, but be gentle and kind, tell them that as long as they’re doing their best, that’s enough.
Treat your child as an equal
“When you grow up you’ll understand” is generally never a good thing to say because it simply doesn’t connect with children. They don’t know what’s future going to be like, and this kind of sentence effectively cuts off all communication. Yes, they might not understand why algebra is important right now. So, explain it to them. Treat them with respect and always take their concerns seriously, even when they seem really silly.
A difficult lesson at school could actually be a nice bonding opportunity. Are they learning about ancient Egypt in history class? Why not go to a museum together? Even if you don’t know much about the subject they need for school, it doesn’t mean that you can’t help them out with it. Encourage their curiosity, show them that learning can be fun, show them the world outside the classroom.
And above all, laugh with your child. Education won’t seem worthwhile if all it ever brings is stress, so teach them how to laugh and enjoy themselves even when things get tough. That’s exactly the kind of attitude that will make them successful in anything they do.