What Parents Can Do to Make a Student Successful?
1. Value the process of education
The primary necessity for scholastic success is for the student to value education and the process by which it is acquired. For some students this valuing of education is something intrinsic – within themselves. However, most often (especially with very young children), the value must come extrinsically – from outside the student. This means the parents must value education; must recognize there is a process to learning and that following that process is worth the effort.
Some students feel that if they put in their time at school they will automatically get good grades, will graduate, get a good job, and earn big bucks. But, it doesn’t work that way. School is work: hence the term “schoolwork”. The student must take school seriously; they will get out of it in direct proportion to what they put into it. The parents who value education and the educational process will automatically transmit that mindset to their children. One way they do this by talking education.
My dad (who only had an eighth grade education) frequently encouraged me to do well in school and continue on till I had gained a college education. I heard this message all my young life. Thus, I inculcated the message into my plans; I knew I would go to college and do something with my life.
“Children learn what they live.” It’s an old saying and a very astute one. Parents transmit the value of education to their children by example as well as in words. When children observe their parents reading and studying, improving themselves they come to view this as normal adult behavior and are likely to replicate the behavior in their own lives. Parents who value, talk, and model education generally raise children who also value it.
2. Provide a peaceful, calm home environment
Humans, children or adults, just naturally do better in peaceful, calm environments. If the home is reasonably organized, peaceful, and happy (not talking about being giddy and fun, fun, fun every moment) the child can relax, focus on the necessary, and feel free to accomplish what they’re capable of accomplishing. If the home is cluttered, meals are at random times, the parents are quarreling, etc. the child becomes unsettled and is thus hampered in
their ability to concentrate on schoolwork; they become unable to realize their full capacity for learning.
Parents often ask about having music playing while a child is studying – is this good or bad? I would say it all depends on the type and volume of the music. Soft, soothing music in the background can be an aid in learning, whereas loud or boisterous music could interfere with learning. Again, strive for peace and calm. We can sum this all up in one word – harmony. If the home environment is harmonious the child will be able to concentrate and do a better job at their schoolwork.
3. Create multiple, short periods of study
A student who finds school challenging may be overwhelmed by all they need to learn and do bringing on frustration and discouragement. Parents can help the overwhelmed child by teaching them to break the work down into manageable segments. Teach them to not rely on cramming but to build a consistent, steady habit of short periods of study. It has been shown that multiple short periods of study are much more beneficial than cramming, enabling the child to develop good, effective, study habits without overburdening the child. http://tdlc.ucsd.edu/tdlc2/news_scientist_Kang.php
How can a parent assist a child in this? An example that comes to my mind is something I read about years ago in the book Cheaper by the Dozen where the father put a French language chart on the back of the bathroom door. Sounds comical, but his daughters actually began to learn French. He wondered why the boys weren’t progressing in their French learning, then realized they were facing the other way – not getting the consistent, short periods of study. He subsequently put another chart on the wall behind the commode – that worked!
Feeding off that idea, I began giving my students a large multiplication chart from Dollar Tree, advising the parents to hang it where the child could easily see it when dressing or undressing. It was amazing how much more easily my students began to learn their multiplication tables. Get creative in helping children develop numerous, short periods of study and see the results.
Another example of multiple short periods of study that aided my students was that I scheduled a 5-minute period each day during which every student focused only on their spelling words. The spelling list was taped to the side of each desk, the children would sit on the floor (an unusual location or position for study can be helpful for some students), and they would focus whole heartedly on spelling for five minutes. This worked very well.
For studying Bible memory verses I would post a large-print copy in a prominent location in the classroom. We read/recited the verse in unison each morning and afternoon. By Friday (test day) most students knew the verse quite well.
Another method I used at home with my children when they were little was to post the Bible verse on the refrigerator. I developed a habit of reading the verse aloud every time I opened the refrigerator – and I taught my children to repeat it after me. They would keep playing with their toys or games but repeat the verse. They very off-handedly learned it. To get comprehension of the verse parents could discuss it during family worship or at meal time.
4. Provide a healthy diet
We’ve all heard it before but it bears repeating: To perform optimally in our work (the child’s work is “school work”) we must have a nutritious diet. Whether or not a child has had a good breakfast can be very obvious in the classroom. Some children come in ready to function as students and progress. Others come in sluggish, hungry, or hyper as can be. When these are asked what they had for breakfast we hear responses such as, “Nothing.” “A donut.” “Two _____” (high caffeine drinks – which can actually kill a child!) https://health.usnews.com/health-care/for-better/articles/2017-05-24/caffeine-can-kill-the-dangers-of-energy-drinks Sending a child to school with no or very little actual nourishment is like asking our car to drive us to work in the morning with no fuel in the tank. The car will stop. The child is close to it also but diligently tries to fake having “fuel in their tank”. This is unfair to the child and doesn’t allow for them to be productive in their scholastic pursuit.
Many parents have told me their child won’t eat breakfast; they sound frustrated. The fact of the matter is that when a child is hungry they will eat! Thus, it behooves us to arrange for them to wake up hungry and provide time for them to eat. The evening meal should be at least three hours before bedtime. There should be absolutely no food or liquid nourishment taken in the evening. No midnight snack. The child will wake up hungry because they have been fasting all evening and night – they will be hungry. Then, it’s our task to provide nutritious food – fuel to enable the brain and body to function well all morning.
As for children who carry their lunch, they must have actual nourishment at noon in order to function well throughout the afternoon. Quality food, a good variety of food, and a minimum (or no) desert will aid the child in being able to function and learn all afternoon.
Fast food, or highly processed foods, can be a nice convenience but a regular diet of them does not provide the necessary nourishment for a human. “Highly processed” means nutrients have been depleted or replaced with man-made elements. Keep in mind that God does it best – go with the nutrition He put in foods; you can’t go wrong. And your child will do better in school.
5. Arrange for plenty of rest
Getting adequate, quality sleep is absolutely essential; the brain, muscles, bones, nervous system – every part of the body must have a break from time to time. Helpful breaks are best provided by regular bedtimes and adequate hours of restful sleep. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/sleep-children#2
Number one rule: Get the TV out of the child’s bedroom! “But they want…”, you say. I know what they want and we both know what they need. As caregivers for these precious little ones God has put in our care we must do what is most needful for the child. A quiet, dark, peaceful environment will allow for the restful sleep that will enable the brain, muscles, bones, nervous system, and entire body to grow and prepare to be its best the next day. Parents should keep their TV, music, or talk low and calm so as to provide a comfort level for the child and give them rest.
One last point: There is much research telling us that lights in the room negatively affect our ability to get restful sleep. https://www.sleep.org/articles/how-lights-affect-sleep/ Train the child to go to sleep without a nightlight in the room and without all the little lights from electronic gadgets. Nightlights can be in the hall to assist the child in going to the bathroom during the night.
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I pray these 5 pointers will benefit your child in being the best student they can be as well as being as healthy as they can be. May God bless you and your child as you arrange for the most beneficial scholastic environment for your child.
Written by MaryAnn Walden