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Help your child succeed

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Eight ways to help your child succeed in school, says Anjali Kalani

With parent-teacher conferences just around the corner, as an educator, I couldn't help but think of how parents play such an enormous role in supporting their child's education. In fact, parental engagement is critical to a child's success in school. According to research, children with involved parents have higher test scores, better social skills and perceive themselves as more competent. Here is how you can help your child succeed in school:

Make sure your child gets adequate sleep

Well-rested children make better learners. They can concentrate and regulate their emotions more than their fatigued counterparts. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends 10-13 hours of sleep, including naps for children between the ages three to five, while nine to 12 hours of sleep is recommended for children between ages six to 12. Establish a set bedtime and stick to the routine. If you need to alter your child's sleep schedule, wind it back by 15 minutes a week rather than changing sleep timings drastically.

Healthy eating and exercise

A child who eats well and exercises is physically fit and falls sick less often. Heathy foods also provide your child with energy that can sustain them through the morning. Begin the day with whole grains, fibre and proteins. Encourage physical activity by enrolling in an after-school sport or just go to the park.

Limit screen-time

While the effects of disproportionate amounts of screen-time are still being studied, it is undeniable that time spent on computers, televisions and phones involve passive learning. Young children need to actively receive  information through manipulating materials. Screens are addictive and have also been linked to poor academic performance, lower levels of concentration, aggressive behavior, childhood obesity and poor social skills. Make bedrooms a screen-free zone and insist your children watch high-quality content only. We limit screen-time to 30 minutes on weekdays, if we have time.

Read every single day

The fail-proof way to foster a love of reading and to ensure reading success in school is to read a wide variety of books to your child. Reading is a great way to connect with children, strengthen brain development, enrich vocabulary and promote concentration and listening skills. Expose children to all genres, including non-fiction, realistic fiction and poetry. Last year, the most popular book in my class was the atlas. This year, it's the encyclopedia.

Reach school on time

Reaching school on time allows children to settle in before lessons begin. Those who are consistently tardy miss out on crucial information, feel lost and embarrassed. By enforcing punctuality, you are also laying the foundation for professionalism in the work place.

Attend parent-teacher conferences

Parent-teacher conferences are the perfect opportunity to share your child's accomplishments and figure out where your child could do with assistance. You can also discuss any behavioural concerns you might have and ask your child's teacher for suggestions.

Provide help with homework

If your child has homework, please make sure it is completed on time. Assist with homework, if necessary, but do not do it for your child. Make math and spelling fun by playing games to reinforce what is learnt in school.

Make your child work on chores

Home-related activities like folding laundry, sweeping and food preparation help develop concentration and independence, which eventually lead to feelings of good self-esteem. A child who has good self-esteem does well in school.

While I'm not recommending hovering over your child or helicopter parenting, it is essential to support your child's education by attending parent-teacher conferences, and establishing routines for bedtime, homework and reading. Healthy eating, exercise, limited screen-time, punctuality in school and involving your child in chores play an integral role in your child's academic success.

Anjali Kalani is a mother of two independent, precocious children and an AMS and AMI certified Montessori guide who teaches children aged three to six in Houston, Texas.

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