Home and school form a large part of child's life in his/her growing years. Although schools have a tremendous impact on child's academic achievement but the influence of home environment is overarching and overwhelmingly sizable.
Here are a few things that could help you become conscious of the home environment you are creating for your child.
1. Have a routine:
Homes that have an informal not regimental rhythm where family members have set time (or time windows) to do things are more conducive to children developing a notion that there is a time to sleep, time to eat, time to watch TV and time to study. Homes where children or adults can sleep anytime, sleep up till anytime, eat anytime, and do things as they please are likely to give a signal to children that it is okay to do anything anytime as it suits one comfortably. Such households are likely to create a lazy and undisciplined attitude amongst children.
A goal without a plan is just a wish
2. Do not make socialization a purpose of your life:
One of the prime responsibilities of family is to give children informal lessons in socialization and social skills. However, a household that is flooded with guests all through the week, where friends keep visiting one or the other member indiscriminately any time of the day, creates an environment that side-tracks dedicated study time or time for self-enhancing activities.
Is your child's schedule your No.1 priority?
3. Model good reading habits:
Children today have many other things to encroach upon their time. They have difficult battles to win with temptations abundant at an easy access. Encouraging children to develop a connection is quite impossible if parents or other influential elders at home do not demonstrate a taste for hobbies other than TV & computer. Children must see adults enjoying books, sharing their readings, watching the value that reading brings to a person's knowledge and opinions. Children must see that books provide a perspective that TV, News, internet may fail to provide. Children must see that books are valued and discussed. Children who grow up in homes where parents love reading and demonstrate good reading habits themselves, tend to develop a healthy relation with books and enjoy reading. Reading to children from the early years is another sure shot way of helping children develop their bond with books.
A book is your child's best friend
4. Model good TV viewing habits:
“Practice what you preach”. If you expect that children must watch only an hour of Television, do so yourself. There is just no other way of getting kids to follow. In households where TV is on as background music throughout the day, it is natural that children succumb to the temptation and become habitual TV viewers in all their free pockets during the day whether it is while eating or even while attempting homework assignment. It is therefore important to have a scheduled time for watching TV. Parents must make responsible choices while watching programs on TV. One cannot expect to be an “emotional Atyachar” follower and assume that children are not being impacted by this. Choosing quality programs and choosing to watch TV selectively and at fixed times of the day helps develop healthy TV viewing habits amongst children.
Set an example for your child
5. Model respect for authority & rules:
Breaking a traffic signal and mocking at the traffic cop, picking a fight with security staff at a mall, lying about a child's age at a ticket counter with the conviction that the authorities are the muggers, not us, all of these are critical measures towards developing child's inner conscience. A child who grows up observing that bending of rules to suit one's needs is acceptable; mocking, ridiculing, criticizing or challenging authority even in the face of clear mistake is acceptable; they have a hard time adjusting to school discipline or complying with teacher's instructions in school as well. This attitude itself proves self -defeating and children lose the essential characteristic of being a good learner; respect and obedience.
Don't worry that your child is not listening to you. Worry that he is.
6. Model self-discipline and self-restraint:
As parents when we exhibit discipline in our living and conduct, children tend to naturally pick it up and more often than not, become human beings capable of delaying gratification, being patient and controlling temptations and manage emotions. For example: do we as a family, if we have decided to have Pizza only on weekends, stick to that commitment? We lead a disciplined life where we have a time to wake up in the morning, a time to retire to bed, a time for leisure and a time to work. If our everyday life has an order and we are balanced in our spending, buying, eating and sleeping, we are helping our children become good learners. Over spending, over partying, over holidaying, over celebrating, are all evidence of a lack of balance.
To handle yourself use your head. To handle your child use your heart.
7. Model appreciation for your Work:
As parents we keep cribbing about our work, whether it is office work or household chores. Children imbibe that attitude towards their work too.
Say no to grumbling
8. Model excellence:
“ Arrey, do this much , it's enough.”; “ Chalo ho gaya, its not bad.”; “ Chalo, kar toh liya.” ; “ I at least did this .” ; these are few statements reflective of setting minimalistic or low expectations of self. Children fail to develop motivation for high achievement in an environment like this. To be a good learner and to be able to excel in life it is essential that we strive for excellence in all our endeavours and make it a way of living. One cannot expect the child to develop that attitude suddenly or overnight.
Set the highest standards
9. Give time and attention to children:
Households where adults are all the time driven by their own agendas and do not spend time listening to children, may prove uninspiring for children to set their goals to perform. Parents who take interest in child's life, his day to day happenings, give a patient hearing to them surely understand them better and are able to guide appropriately. Push when they need it and pause when it is best; this understanding can only be developed if the parent spends enough time with children and watches them or attends to them regularly.
Active listening takes energy and effort
10. Listen to their grouches and use that opportunity to inculcate positive attitude:
It is very normal and natural for children to complain about homework, peers, teachers or school in general. But what is critical at such times is the wisdom displayed by parents in responding to the same. Parents must listen to children's grouches and keep in mind things that bother; however they must also be able to give a clear message to the child that there is a positive way of looking at it: that life offers all such experiences to help us learn and benefit from the same. These are lessons for us to learn in adapting and making the best of every situation. Don't give children the message that you will go out there and fix everything for them because nothing untoward should come their way. They must not grow up thinking that they are responsible to act only when things are perfect around them or else they can take respite in blaming and claiming.
Every opportunity has a difficulty and every difficulty has opportunity. Stay positive.
11. Celebrate effort, not just outcome:
If your child is getting an A + without much effort; it may not be really worth being proud about because it is essential to give children the message that true success lies in effort not just the outcome. If he/she has the capability, then must explore more, ask more questions, seek more knowledge within the classrooms. On the contrary if the child puts in a lot of effort (not a show of effort) but ends up with a not so impressive grade, parents must acknowledge and celebrate the effort and exhibit their pride in the same.
Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration
12. Stay in touch with teachers:
Teachers have a lot of knowledge and information about your child that might be very helpful to understand things in complete perspective. A lot of tales carried by children might need the other side of story to make clear sense. Also a lot of times, teacher and you would have common concerns that can only be addressed when both of you speak the same language at home and school. Meet up regularly with teachers to understand reality and not have a lopsided view.
School is just a phone call away.
13. Give only healthy support:
Do not extend unhealthy support: Support school in its disciplinary action. Protecting or defending children when not warranted sends out the message to the child that you support their negative behaviour. It becomes us against the school and under mines the authority of the teacher.
Lets speak the same language
14. Be a Lighthouse not a walking stick:
Supervise their homework. Do not do their homework. You can show them direction: do not drag them along to walk on the same. Children must make their own decisions and own choices, for that is important that you allow them the freedom to fall and make mistakes. Children will internalize values and facts deeper when given the scope to fail. It is not essential as a parent to correct every mistake right then and there. An attempt to fix problems immediately often results in a long term failure where one ends up raising children who can never function without being pushed, who find it hard to handle failure and who never learn to be responsible for their actions.
Help your child to help himself / herself
15. Make them responsible for their school affairs:
Do not pack their bag. Do not handover the school uniform in their hands every morning. Do not give wakeup call more than thrice; do not call up their friends to know about the homework. All these must be done by the child himself/herself. Worse come to worst, the child will fail to do it and fail to do it again and again. Let him face the music. That music could be in terms of action taken in school and also action taken by you at home. It is not harmful or damaging to make demands on children. It is rather healthy and positive to do so especially when it is related to their immediate goals and responsibilities as a student.
Character is the will to imagine,accept resposibility for one's own life.
16. Motivate but do not bribe children to study:
Children do not have to be rewarded for doing what they anyway must. Rewards should be well deserved and for reasons that are deserving or worthy of appreciation, such as doing their work in advance or helping someone else accomplish their work etc. Do not set low benchmarks for children by applauding every single right action. It is expected of them to act right. Applaud when they act good and exceptionally.
The joy of learning is itself the best reward for learning
17. The concept of self-study:
Children are listening, sometimes partially and sometimes intently, to a lot of information or concepts being taught to them for long hours every day. But no learning can take place unless an individual devotes himself to take in what has been heard or shown to him by reading on his own or writing it down in his own way to create personal notes.
Learning happens only when the person applies himself to the content or matter being taught. Even the most excellent tutors cannot ensure permanent learning if the pupil fails to spend time reading or writing personally.
Therefore children must have time to go through what was taught in class every day so that it is transferred to their short term memory and the student can at least be clear on what he has understood and what he has not so that he /she can then be ready to clarify with teacher what he/she is not clear about. An absence of self-study time can seriously mar the learning of an individual. So parents must ensure that despite the homework, child does spend some time (30 minutes to an hour) towards revisiting the lessons learnt on a day or during a week.