8 Ways To Help Your Child Flourish At School (And Life)
Montessori Educator & Principal, Gavin McCormack, shares 8 essential life skills to teach your child.
In the past, parents and carers have relied on teachers and the school system to educate their children. However, with the new research surrounding the importance of essential skills such as empathy, resilience and time management, parents and carers should not underestimate the influence they can have over their child’s educational performance.
While teachers go above and beyond the call of duty to cultivate well-rounded individuals, we must not forget that children, on average, spend around 532 hours per month at home, compared to 140 hours in school. While some may argue that most of that is spent sleeping, that sleep in itself has a crucial impact on children reaching their full potential.
These simple at-home activities will help your child flourish, while promoting independence, connection, and social-emotional awareness:
1. Allow your child to pack and carry their bag to school
By allowing your child to pack and carry their own bag to school, you are teaching them about responsibility, independence and self-regulation. They will learn to spend each day prioritizing what they do and don’t need to bring with them. If they forget to pack their homework, their hat or their project on dinosaurs, be mindful before rushing to their aid. They’ll learn from their mistakes. Don’t bend to their whim and carry their bag for them either. Show them that you trust them to look after their own bag by carrying it themselves.
2. Make bed time and wake-up time calm and consistent
Children find it easier to fall asleep when there’s a calm routine to prepare them for bed. Taking a bath, brushing their teeth, reading a story, and getting to bed at the same time each night establishes a predictable, soothing routine. With these rituals in place, your child will be more likely able to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed.
3. Model the behavior you want from your child
There is a famous quote by the author James Baldwin; “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” There is so much truth to this. You may ask your child to behave a certain way, but unless they see this behavior reflected in you, they’re unlikely to feel compelled to listen. They learn how to deal with stress by watching how you handle your stress. They learn how to treat other people by watching how you treat others. Be a positive role model for your children and model the behaviors you’d like to see in them.
4. Talk about feelings
Emotional intelligence for children under ten years old is one of the hardest topics for teachers and parents to embrace. Children can be irrational at the best of times, and as they grow older, their hormones change and this can cause eruptions of emotions within them that they themselves don’t even understand. This is the perfect opportunity for discussions around feelings and why we have them. In order for your child to regulate these emotions, healthy discussion and an open channel of communication between parents and child are crucial.
5. Always get to school on time
When your child arrives late to school, the whole trajectory of the day is pulled out of whack. Your child is automatically out of the loop, both socially and academically. All the seats are taken, all the plans are made, and this can affect not only the potential for your child to learn on any given day, but also affect their self-esteem. So remember to wake up early and arrive on time!
6. Allow your child to pick their own clothing
Demonstrating individuality through clothing enables children to express themselves. Rather than anything goes, offer a few choices that are appropriate for both your child’s school and the weather. For example, lay out three sets of warm clothing for a winter day, giving your child a feeling of empowerment and independence.
7. Spend one night per week walking and talking
Going out for a walk at night before bed is both enjoyable and relaxing, giving both you and your child time to unwind, chat, and explore the night sky. During these moments, you can ask about your child’s day and their feelings about it. What was their favorite thing the learned about? Did they enjoy playing with their friends? Take a moment to stop and stare at the night sky and talk about subjects such as the stars, the moon and the universe.
8. Communicate fully
In the early stages of child development, children’s brains are like sponges. During this time, it is vital that we don’t underestimate the power of vocabulary. When they eventually begin to speak, write and communicate, that vocabulary will come pouring out. Avoid short, simple statements like “don’t do that,” “stop,” or “eat this.” Instead, use complete sentences that explain the full reasoning behind your requests, such as “Please don’t rock on your chair because you might accidentally fall backwards and hurt your head.” Your child may not understand at first, but they’ll soon absorb not only your message, but also these new words.
These are simply eight of many actions that parents and carers can take, within the home, to both enhance their child’s potential at school and build a solid relationship with their child. Build these into your weekly routine and you’ll see your children grow into independent, empathetic citizens of the world.