As school begins after the summer break – every child and every parent is a little apprehensive.
A new class is always scary.
It scares the best of students. And it terrifies those who have not done very well the previous year.
The beginning of the new school year then is the time for parents to step in and offer support to their children. Support and encouragement at the beginning of the year can change the way your child performs in the new academic year.
Parents are often enthusiastic about finding out what their little ones are doing in school and plunge headlong into their children’s books and studies in the junior classes. Their interest however wanes when children reach higher grades. They leave it to the children to figure out what they need to do on their own – not realizing that even though teenagers start looking like adults because of their height by the time they reach grade 7, their maturity level is nowhere near the maturity level of an adult. In addition they suddenly have a whole bunch of other things that are distracting them in these years. And unless they are guided and hand-held through the initial difficulties they encounter when learning new concepts – they are likely to struggle with studies and ultimately give up.
Teenagers often have big dreams but are unable to define the path to reach that goal. That is where parents can help.
If your child is starting school – here is what you should do to offer support
- Stay positive – For many families – the beginning of the school year is time of anxiety. Especially if the child has not done very well in the previous year – the new school year is a time of anxiety for the parents who are worried about being summoned to the school by the teacher and having to listen to complaints. It is also a time of worry for the child who is scared because he is shaky about some of the concepts that he was unable to grasp the previous year and which are likely to come back and haunt him in the new year. Even if this is the case in your house and even if you are dreading the start of the school year – never say “Oh no! School is starting again” A few weeks before school begins start saying positive things like “A new year and a new class is a new chance to do everything you wanted to do last year but couldn’t”.
- Focus on problem solving – The blame game does not help anyone – problem solving does. Don’t keep blaming your child for not studying, for not listening or for not writing in the exam. If he hasn’t done what he should have – try and discover what the reason for not doing it may have been. Have a gentle conversation with your child – don’t scare him away with your stern look or your loud voice. Pick a good time to have the conversation and ask your child what he thinks didn’t work last year and why he couldn’t do what was required. Make sure you listen to his answer and his explanation. Even if you think you know that the answer to your question is that he didn’t study. Don’t say it aloud. Let him arrive at the result. One of the golden rules of helping a child is that – if you ask a child a question about his problems – make sure you accept his answer before you show him what you think the problem was.
- Brainstorm to arrive at a solution to the problem – Children often see problems from a completely different angle. They also have solutions that are very different from ours. Although some of the solutions are improbable and impractical when we give their solutions a patient hearing and show them respect – they are more likely to accept and implement the eventual solution that emerges from the discussion – even if that solution is proposed by us. This is why it is important to brainstorm for solutions and not impose what we think is the solution on our children.
- Set achievable goals for the new academic year – It has been famously said that a goal is a dream with a deadline. Although children have many dreams – because they cannot turn these dreams into goals and follow these dreams up with action – their dreams often remain dreams. They never become reality. As parents it is important that we help children set goals that they can achieve. A child who has been getting a 40% cannot suddenly get 100% in all the subjects. Aim for a 50% at first.
- Help your child outline the steps that will take him to his goals.- Even when children manage to set goals for themselves – they are unable to define the path they need to follow to reach those goals. The tasks that your child needs to accomplish to reach the goals he wants to achieve may seem too big and almost insurmountable to her/him. It is at this point that they need parents to step in to show them how to break up a huge task into smaller chunks and allocate a certain time each day to do the small chunk assigned for the day. Children often need help with finding the time do this small chunk at first. And this makes them give up when they see the piled up workload. Participating in their plan to reach their goal can make all the difference.
- Make sure you tell your child that you are on his team and want to help him succeed. All of us want our children to succeed. Unfortunately however, several times – we assume the role of spectators and judges of their journey rather than active participants in it. Children don’t need to see our disapproval and judgement. They need us to stand there with them – to cheer for them and to pull the weight along with them when things become too difficult. Tell your child over and over again that you are on his/her side. Let her/him know that you will help him/her overcome the challenges along the way – so that he/she does not feel alone.
Don’t just set goals and walk away. When school starts stay connected with what your child is doing and step in when he needs help as soon as you think he needs help.
The new academic year is your child’s chance to rewrite history. To change everything that has gone in the previous year. Help your child to achieve his dreams by following the above tips.
Also Read How to Set Goals for Academic Year