Helping Your Children Develop Social Maturity

When it comes to our children’s performance in school, as parents, we are almost always focused on their academic progress.  Although that of course is critical, it is also beneficial for us to ensure that they are getting the most out of their schooling, and that includes being socially proficient. Whether your children have issues with their social development or are just naturally shy, there are several ways that parents can teach social maturity.

It is best to start teaching your children social graces before they start school.  For example, you can take them to the park where they can interact with other children while you sit, observe, and possibly strike up a chat with their parents. You should be looking for a few things as your children mingle with others: are they sharing, actively involved, and laughing?  These are crucial in friendly interactions.  Use what you have observed to talk with your children about how they can improve their behavior during the next social event.

If your children are in school but still having challenges interacting with their peers, consider how to assist them.  Students are surrounded by the same people every day and having a familiar environment helps many children thrive socially.   A great way for your children to actively meet new people and socialize with friends, even in a new environment, is for them to join a club.  Clubs are smaller groups of people who have similar interests and who interact with each other based on these common interests.  My sons participated in many different clubs based on their interests, such as sports clubs, chess clubs, church clubs and music clubs.  And, they developed long lasting friendships that exist to this day from those clubs.

Another way for children to develop socially is working with others on homework.  Often, teachers assign projects to a small group of students.  The students in those small groups then get together and plan and prepare what to do for each project.  By helping each other, friendships are developed.  My nephew is in 9th grade and one of his teachers often assigns group projects.  He and his fellow students meet frequently and after they have dedicated time to their project, my sister takes the group out for a treat.  All during this time, social skills are being developed, as well as academic skills.

Parents have tremendous influences on their children’s lives.  When speaking with your friends, family members, or even strangers, be sure to display kindness, compassion, and confidence.  Children learn best from what they see and hear. Be the best example to your children that you can be!

A well-rounded child is not just one who excels academically.  Social growth and maturity are key to a child’s ultimate success in life as well. 

Help your Children Plan and Prepare for their Exams this Exam Season

It is exam season and your children might either be freaking out about it or blissfully oblivious as their exam dates get closer with each passing day.  Regardless of their state of mind right now, exam season is always a stressful time.  Parents can play a significant role in relieving some of that stress by assisting their children to prepare for their exams.

Before beginning, parents must understand the type of learner their children are.  Of course, each child is different.  Is she a visual or hands-on learner?  Is he a mix of both? Does she work better alone or in a group? How long is his attention span? Talk with each of them about it and come up with methods for exam preparations that are the most conducive to his learning style(s), not yours.

Many parents, including me, assist their children before a test. Some use flashcards, others ask probing questions, while others make mock exams - the effectiveness of each technique is completely determined by each child’s learning style.

I have written some tips in a couple of articles on this blog about spending time with your children and being involved when they do their homework, that can be applied to helping your children study for exams.  The most important takeaways from these blogs should be scheduling, location and your overall involvement.  Studying in a clear - somewhat secluded- area helps your children focus on their tasks without distraction.  Planning a schedule to study for each class gives a sense of order during a time that may be chaotic for most students. Parents can assist by checking up on your children every once in a while to observe their progress or assist with a problem.  This shows them that you care about their academics and it gives them the chance to share what they have learned. It also gives them the opportunity to ask questions on what they may not thoroughly understand yet.

That is not all! According to an article on the U.S. Department of Education’s website, one of the best things you can do for your children is to talk to them about their exams. Find out what subjects they are confident and not-so confident in. Speak with them about the areas they think they need to focus on. Speak with their teachers and present these inquiries to them, too.  Use your newfound data to help your children set up a study plan that strengthens their weaknesses and enhances their strengths.

Be sure to confirm with their teachers the correct exam dates and ensure that they start studying well in advance.  Children can get confused about dates, especially if they have not written them down.  Also, having a longer time span for them to go over the information for each subject, gives your children a better chance of actually learning and comprehending the information rather than just memorizing it.  Comprehension signifies that the information can be applied to many different situations; however, memorization makes it much harder to do so.

Parents know what exam season is like. We all have been through it. We can use our experiences, along with these tips, to ensure that our children handle studying and taking exams better than we did and are more successful.  You can find the U.S Department of Education’s article for more tips on how to help your children by clicking here.

Getting Your Children Interested in STEM

STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and math - are commonly disliked subjects among children, especially girls.   However, that does not have to be so.  By introducing our children to real life applications, we parents can get them to be amazed at the wonders that come alive and have them asking for more. 

In her online blog titled How to Get Your Kids Interested in STEM (Without Forcing it on Them), writer Melanie Pinola gives some very good advice for some real life applications:

1.  Introduce food science while cooking, as children will love to eat the results.  In fact, there are many books that have edible science experiments for children. 

2. While shopping with your children or doing banking, encourage them to participate with numbers.  For example, you can compare the costs of similar store items and have them do simple calculations in their heads.  Also, talk to them about how interest works.  I assisted my sons with opening up their own savings accounts with their accumulated allowance money when they were very young and talked with them about how a bank will pay them interest on their money.   Have them calculate what the interest is every month.

3. Play STEM games with your children and buy them STEM toys.  One of the most favored STEM toys, especially with boys, are the Lego building blocks.  One of my nephews only wants gifts of these blocks and his bedroom is filled with all the different building projects he has completed. 

4. Watch STEM shows, especially those that cater to children. 

STEM subjects are critical to the development of our economy and will provide our children with good-paying, secure careers.  So, let’s start them at a young age learning and appreciating all that they can offer.

Read her entire blog by CLICKING HERE.

Extracurricular Activities Ensure Excellence In and Out of the Classroom

Study after study has shown that extracurricular activities provide many benefits for students.  These activities have been known to not onlyprovide children with a break in the day from the stress and anxiety that comes with academics, but also to assist them with copingwith all of the many different things happening in their lives.

Programs such as a language club or a debate team reinforce many classroom-based skills, while sports and musical programs have been known to ‘wake’ the brain up.  Additionally, these type of activities give children a sense of routine, and by allowing them to choose activities they are interested in, parents will inspire them to continue with these routines throughout their adult lives.  Moreover, students who participate in these sorts of activities have been shown to earn higher scores on college admission’s exams.

After-school activities have actually been found to give children energy and help them thrive within their social groups.  All of this is added impetus to later doing homework as well.   On the other hand, students who are not involved in any after-school programs have been known to go through periods of sluggishness, making it difficult for them to even get started on their homework. 

An additional benefit is being able to provide constructive information on a college application.  Colleges are looking for students who are well rounded and sociable, and who will likely survive a rigorous academic schedule.   When your children are able to show what they have done outside the classroom, they will be able to establish their good character, social worthiness, and academic stamina. 

To learn more about the benefits of extracurricular activities, click here.

Parents - It’s Important to Stay Involved in Your Children’s Homework Process

Last week, I ended my blog by stating that the implementation of a homework schedule and a quiet place to work gives children the basics they need for concentration and a good homework product.  I suggested that parents set aside time to assist their children. Today, I will dig deeper into parental involvement in homework.

When it comes to homework, take time to, at the very least, oversee the homework process. Ask questions to make sure that they know what the homework is and what is expected of them. 

Engage and respond when given the chance. Working with your children not only gives them an opportunity to discuss what they are learning, but also gives parents the opportunity to know what their children are learning. Even the smartest children will sometimes need help and that is an opportunity to step in.  In regard to making corrections, while it is important for you to make a correction when a mistake is made, you should give critiques constructively, not with judgment or name calling. 

As children grow older, their work becomes progressively harder, making it more difficult for both students and parents to keep up.  Never “make up” an answer if you do not know how to solve a specific problem. Your job is to help them to the best of your ability.  Giving false information does more damage than good for a child’s education. Instead, make a note of the problem that was giving you both trouble and speak with or email the teacher, so the teacher knows exactly what to review with your child during the next class.

When it comes to homework, there is no expectation for you to be the perfect parent. There will be some areas you can assist with and there will be times when you are just as confused as your children, maybe even more.  Being a part of that process is what is most important for your children’s development and what will eventually cause them to thrive.

Spending Time with Your Children While They are Doing Homework

Homework is an integral aspect of your children’s education as it ensures that they can comprehend every lesson taught to them.  Spending quality time with them and assisting when necessary, shows that you care for them and their success. 

I remember that, as a child, my mother was by my side to help and guide me whenever I had homework challenges.  One such challenge comes vividly to mind.  When I was in 5th grade, I had a homework assignment due the first school day after the four day Thanksgiving holiday.  Even though I had four days to complete it, I kept procrastinating and waited until late Sunday afternoon to begin it.  What I discovered was that it was not a short, easy assignment.  I had to study all about Thanksgiving Day and create an art project about the Pilgrims.  I panicked and went straight to my mother for help.  Not only did she spend the rest of that afternoon and evening assisting me putting together the art project, but she also enlisted all of my sisters to help.  We had the dining room table covered with crayons and markers, pictures of turkeys, Pilgrims and Indians, and glue.  

My mother was not happy that I had procrastinated and she made that very clear.  I can honestly say that I never procrastinated on another homework project again! 

Every child handles homework differently. Consider developing a homework schedule as an integral part of your children’s academic development.  It should not only be consistent, but also work well for the child, making the experience less of a chore.

Once you work out a schedule, set up an environment where your children are able to complete their work without problems or interference.  After doing all this, you should set aside time to help them complete their assignments.  Remember, though, not to do their homework for them!

Pray for Your Children's Teachers

As the new school year flows into its second month, consider teaching your children to pray for their teachers.  Before doing so, be sure to read Shane Pruitt’s August 10, 2016 online article 10 Ways to Pray for Your Child’s Teacher This School Year.  Here are some of his suggestions:

  1. Pray for peace in the classroom.  With so many different children with all kinds of personalities and so many demands placed on the teacher, the spirit of peace should reign. 
  2. Pray for wisdom on how and what to teach and also what the teacher should say to each student.  
  3. Pray for patience, strength and understanding to guide the children along the proper paths.
  4. Pray for unity – unity within the classroom, unity in the relationship between parents and the teacher, unity among the teachers, and unity within the school and its administration.
  5. Pray for the teacher’s spiritual, physical and emotional endurance.  Your children need and deserve teachers who are stable and grounded and will last through the entire school year.
  6. Pray for the teacher’s personal life.  Oftentimes, we don’t think about a teacher’s life outside the classroom.  Pray for the teacher’s home life – marriage and children, etc.  Pray that the teacher has interesting hobbies that he/she can enjoy and relax with and then return to the classroom refreshed.

This year, instead of complaining about teachers, pray for them.  “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV)  You can read the entire article by CLICKING HERE.

Inspirational Back to School Quotes for Your Children – Instill Courage

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 31:8

I’m continuing with back to school inspirational quotes for your children during the month of September and today’s blog post is on instilling courage.  As your children return to school, they are dealing with many different fears – fears of the unknown such as new teachers, new classmates, new activities, etc.  The Bible is filled with stories showing how ordinary people overcame their fears by keeping their focus on God.  Pick out some stories and read them to your children.

One wonderful example is Daniel in the lion’s den.  Discuss the characters in the stories and how they stood out from among the others.  Select verses focusing on courage and help your children memorize them.  Pray with your children for strength and courage during times of transition.  Talk to them about the situations that they are going through.  Help them develop a deep understanding that God is faithful and will always be with them.

More Summer Reading Programs for Children

    I can’t write enough about the importance of having your children read during the summer.   The diagram with this blog today illustrates how children can actually drastically lose reading skills during the summer months if they do not have access to books.  For children in high and low income households who read during the summer, their reading skills improved up to 25%.  For children in low income households who do not read, their reading skills actually dropped by almost 10%.

    On an online article, Liz Haskins lists 10 free summer reading programs.  She also explains how to access free books on a Kindle or E-Reader.  Read her article by CLICKING HERE.  There is no excuse for not having your children read, and read, and read this summer.  Your child’s performance in school during the coming year depends on it.  

Teachers Play a Critical Role in Advancing Literacy

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

― Henry Adams

My blog centers around promoting literacy.  Most of my writing is geared toward what parents, grandparents and other adults can do in the home.  What about outside the home?  Teachers are the ones who spend approximately 7 hours a day, Monday through Friday, with our children.  They not only teach, but also are role models and motivators and as such, they are vital to our children’s ability to read and development of the love of reading.

When did you last speak to your children’s teachers about the importance of reading?  When was the last time that you visited your children’s classrooms? What type of books are in the classroom?  How often do the children visit the library?  What can you do to help these teachers to promote reading more?
    
Teachers often are overworked and have many different lessons to cover during a school day.  However, they understand the importance literacy plays in a child’s education and overall life.  Try volunteering at the school to assist.    Donate books to the classroom, especially books that your children have already read.  Then, they can be the ones to tell their friends about the books.  Helping your children’s teacher to be better teachers benefits your children and others.