Surviving School: How Parents Can Help Their Kids Finish Strong This Year
All parents want their children to succeed in school, but the pandemic has added an extra layer of stress to families everywhere as schools fluctuate between on-campus and distance learning. While some children thrive in school, others have a more difficult time in their academic pursuits. As we approach the end of this tumultuous school year, parents can help their children finish strong by instilling a positive connection to school.
School is a wonderful way for children to grow socially, developmentally, emotionally, and cognitively. The experience of going to school is worth so much more than letter grades, book reports, and math skills. School allows children to build relationships with their peers and their teachers, and figure out what their passions are. School is both an enriching social arena as well as a place where students can expand their minds. And yet, for some children, school brings many negative associations.
Here are some causes of negative school experiences for children:
Frequent switching schools.
Bullying by peers.
Lack of engaging teachers.
Negative experiences with discipline.
Shyness or social anxiety.
Pressure from parents about grades.
Lack of organization.
Struggles with distance learning and technology.
Don’t worry, if your child is struggling more this year than ever before, there are plenty of ways you can help make this final stretch of the academic year a success.
Parents can help make the work less boring. Children that are bored in school are much less likely to succeed. Kids that aren’t challenged enough or don’t see the relevance in their schoolwork will have a difficult time thriving in school. Parents should pay attention to what their kids are learning about in school, and help foster positive connections between their child’s learning and everyday life. For instance, if your child hates practicing fractions, try practicing with a pizza or a cake and talk about the different ways you can divide the food to represent different parts of the whole. If your child finds history and wars boring, try finding a local war memorial or a museum to enrich their learning experience.
Parents can help make learning fun and engaging. Kids are quick to pick up on parents’ attitudes, so it’s important to be positive when working through school assignments. Kids can be inspired by their parents’ excitement and curiosity about learning. Tone of voice is important, too. Keep learning experiences light-hearted and exciting instead of dull and routine. If your child has a hard time focusing indoors, bring school outside and do homework in the backyard. Spend time reading through books and passages with your child, and discuss with them what they are reading about. Play math games, do art projects together, or practice learning a musical instrument with your child. Your enthusiasm might be the boost of confidence your child needs!
Parents can create a positive learning environment. Children thrive on routines, but unfortunately, the pandemic threw us all a curve ball we weren’t prepared for. As best you can, try to mimic an average school day at home if your child is doing virtual learning. Write up a schedule on the computer, and display it somewhere your child can easily see. Make sure to schedule breaks for snacks and play, too. Try to set up a learning station where your child won’t be distracted by other people in the house. Allow your child to help you design the learning space by picking out his desk, some office supplies, and organization tools. This will help your child feel more comfortable and appreciative of the workspace.
Parents can step in as a “study buddy.” At school, students have their peers to interact with. They can talk to each other, ask questions, and assist each other on assignments. At home, your child might struggle with the lack of social interaction. Parents can practice “being the student” by studying with their children. Have your child pretend to be the teacher, and explain to you what she’s learned about in class. A clear sign that your child understands the material is when she can present it back to you, so being her study buddy can be very helpful!
Parents can encourage peer relationships. In places where schools haven’t reopened, children have been isolated from one another outside of virtual learning. Social relationships are one of the most important parts of the school experience, so it’s understandable if your child is feeling sad this time of year. If the only interaction your child gets with other children is through Zoom classes, try setting up virtual “play dates,” calls with family and friends, or even meeting up with a friend or two that you trust to follow public health guidelines. It’s important for children to stay connected with one another, even during these challenging times.
Parents can take a hands-off approach. The more parents meddle in their children’s academic pursuits, the less likely their children will be to succeed. Kids with overbearing parents will be far less motivated to learn. Kids who become frustrated with assignments will have difficulty finding the motivation to complete those assignments. Your child’s emotional wellbeing is worth more than any individual assignment, so it’s important to recognize when your child is feeling overwhelmed to the point that a meltdown is imminent. Help your child when he needs assistance, but try your best to let them manage their schoolwork and complete assignments on time. The goal is to learn, not get perfect test scores. Help your child succeed by showing him you trust his ability to complete his work well.
These are challenging times for families as students cope with school closures and virtual learning, but there are ways you can help set your child up for success even with at-home learning. The more that you stay positive, the more likely your child will be to finish the year with a positive attitude.
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.