In Part 1 of this post, we offered parents 8 simple, practical and effective tips for supporting your child’s mental health this year (and into the future).
In Part 2, we’ll be sharing 8 equally simple tactics to help your child not only survive this school year…
But also to thrive in the educational setting, and use the things they learn to achieve success in all their future endeavours.
You’ll find some of our recommendations double up over both posts…
But that’s because many of these actions have a multitude of benefits.
And because — as research increasingly shows — mental health and academic performance are inextricably linked.
So we’ll start with one of the easiest, and one of the most important…
We talked about how a consistent routine supports good mental health in part 1…
And it’s just as helpful in supporting good habits that support learning.
The best way to enforce a habit is with repetition.
So allocate an at least an hour each day of their routine to homework and study.
Follow up this part of their routine with play or leisure time…
So they have an extra incentive for getting the work done, and something to look forward to when it is.
A routine also supports consistent sleeping hours, and therefore more quality sleep.
And as we know, sleep has a significant effect on performance and school…
As it supports cognition, memory and the self-regulation we need to perform our best.
Educational Benefits: Improved sleep, enforced habits, time-management skills, responsibility, consistent study over ‘cramming’ (slow and steady wins the race!).
2. Promote the value — and enjoyment — of reading.
There are so many mental and cognitive benefits to reading…
Reading improves literacy and widens our vocabulary.
It stimulates our imagination, and can help to develop empathy.
And it gives us time to ‘switch off’ from the world; many people consider reading a form of meditation.
By promoting a love of reading from a young age, you’re passing all these benefits on to your kids.
And if they love reading for pleasure, they’ll find it much easier to do so for school and university.
And don’t just promote independent reading…
When age appropriate, read to and with your kids.
Studies show that young children whose parents read aloud to them experience greater development in brain activity, visual association and language skills.
You can encourage your kids to read by your own behaviour — showing them that you love and enjoy reading by reading often…
And by having lots of books around the house for them to choose from.
Educational Benefits: Improved literacy, increased vocabulary, creative thinking, empathy, mental stimulation.
3. Foster a love of learning.
A love of learning is key to academic success.
And the ability to spend our formative years learning is a privilege.
Help your kids to appreciate this privilege, rather than feeling like it’s an obligation.
You can do this by encouraging inquisition and curiosity outside of the school setting…
For younger kids, even trips to the supermarket are an opportunity for learning.
For older kids, discussing current events helps them to engage and acquire knowledge that’s timely and relevant.
When kids love to learn outside of school, this naturally extends to the classroom too.
And it will continue to benefit them for the rest of their lives, in university, work and adult life.
As they will come to love learning for learning’s sake, they will also be more resilient in the face of ‘failures’.
Educational Benefits: Valuing school, increased motivation, problem solving, knowledge acquisition, discipline, perseverance.
4. Focus on the process, not the results.
Grades aren’t everything.
By putting too much pressure on numbers, ranks and scores…
Kids lose sight of the bigger picture, and lose their love of learning!
The high pressure of schooling is causing an epidemic of anxiety among Australian students (and abroad…)
And anxiety leads to avoidance, and poor performance.
So adopt a ‘Growth Mindset’:
Make sure your children know that their intelligence is not fixed…
That the point of school is not to be the best, but to learn…
And that hard work is the key to academic success.
And when they fail, help them to be resilient in the face of disappointment…
To learn and grow from the experience, and to discover how they can improve in the future.
Educational Benefits: Motivation, engagement, enthusiasm, discipline, diligence, hard work.
5. Have high expectations.
Studies show that when educators and parents have high expectations of students, they perform better.
High expectations help to motivate kids, while also increasing their confidence.
And they send a clear message to students that the influential adults in their life believe they are capable and competent in the work they have been assigned.
For the same reason, avoid helping your kids with their homework or assessments excessively…
By helping them too much, you’re sending the opposite message — that they’re not cut out for the challenge.
And remember they’ve been assigned this work because their teachers know they are able to complete it.
To help your children the most, and make sure that high expectations don’t start to feel like high pressure…
Make sure your expectations are reasonable and fair, personalised, supported, and clearly and explicitly defined.
Educational Benefits: Increased motivation, confidence, self-esteem.
7. Help them engage.
But research shows that 40 per cent of Australian students are disengaged in the classroom…
And performance is suffering as a result.
Help your children engage with their studies by taking an active interest in them…
By showing them that you’re interested in what they’re learning, you’ll help them to realise that this knowledge is valuable.
By asking them about it, you will give them an opportunity to engage with the information in an active way.
And by talking to them about it, you can help them to relate to topics in a way that might not be obvious in the classroom.
Educational Benefits: Problem solving, creative and critical thinking, personalised learning, parental awareness of curriculum.
8. Be aware of the roadblocks to learning.
Now more than ever, it’s important that parents are aware of the problems faced by students that affect learning.
Social issues like bullying…
Or learning issues, like ADHD or dyslexia.
By familiarising yourself with the warning signs and symptoms, and talking openly, honestly and often with your children…
(Including in the ways addressed in number 7 above)
Parents can identify these roadblocks as early as possible, and work towards resolving them.
And early intervention in the treatment of any of these issues is paramount.
Educational Benefits: Early intervention, assistance in learning, potential government/ school assistance, increased emotional and educational support.
Academic pressure in Australian schools is more intense than ever.
And importantly, parents should know the limitations of teachers and schools to address the personal needs of each student.
But by factoring the above resolutions into your family life, you can help support your children in the ways they need…
So that they cannot only survive school, but thrive in the school setting.
If you think your child needs some extra support, contact us for an initial consult.