Last Updated On: March 18th, 2021
If you haven’t already noticed I am all about honesty. And I’ll be honest, I was not a huge fan of school. While I was an excellent student, a classic overachiever, and a master of befriending every clique, I didn’t feel excited to go to school. I knew it was a means to an end. Although my parents never pressured me to get good grades (and I’m very lucky that was the case), I did feel this innate need for approval and validation through my grades. My parents were both highly intelligent academics with masters degrees and as their kid I felt like I had to pull my weight. Now here’s the thing, that’s just one experience. Some kids take a more rebellious route to get their parents approval—failing classes, being rebellious. For these kids, it’s just a matter of reworking the perspective and finding ways you can take initiative to help guide them.
When I say that, most parents are thinking, “duh! Of course I care!” But there may be a few out there that are scratching their heads. An engaged child with excellent grades can’t be purchased. Sure, you can get a tutor and lock them in their room to focus on their homework. Maybe that will only help a little bit if there’s a lack of accountability and discipline. It definitely won’t create long term change. Children (of all ages) still require parental approval. If you don’t care about what they’re doing in school, their academic success, their extracurriculars, how do you expect them to care? Perhaps it’s for a valid reason too. Perhaps your job is very demanding and you just can’t be the kind of parent who is heavily involved in their school life. However, I urge you to take a beat and try to find a way to show you care. Even a small comment like, “I saw your report card. It looks great!” can inspire some much needed motivation in your child. They will register this and if you continue to notice even the small wins they may actually take an interest in their school life moving forward.
2. GET INVOLVED
Although every parent has a busy life and a never-ending schedule, it’s imperative to show them that school is important. How they use this time will shape who they become, their work ethic, their perception of the world. Find a way to volunteer at their school or go on a field trip. My mom still recalls those special days she could attend a field trip. And I remember them vividly (and I have the memory of Dory). Take the time to be present in their academic world. Show them how much you value education. Spend time together in whatever school setting works well with your schedule. And if it doesn’t work well, make it work. You only get one time to be there while they’re growing up and in school, don’t waste it.
According to the National Literacy Trust, “Studies show that children whose parents are involved show greater social and emotional development (Allen & Daly, 2002), including more resilience to stress, greater life satisfaction, greater self-direction and self control, greater social adjustment, greater mental health, more supportive relationships, greater social competence, more positive peer relations, more tolerance, more successful marriages, and fewer delinquent behaviours (Desforges & Abouchaar, 2003).”
3. BE TOO MUCH
Is that me? Am I “too much?” If you’re asking yourself this, you probably are. But you know what, THAT’S GREAT! If you are constantly asking your kids what they are up to in school, when their next project is due, if they need help studying for a test, then you’re doing it RIGHT. That being said, it’s important not to go too far into nagging territory (remember we don’t want kids associating schoolwork as a chore). There is a healthy balance in this though. Can you find a way to check their grades weekly? See if there are any missing assignments. Can you ask them if you can help with anything and remain non-judgmental and open minded? Now your “too much” is actually the perfect amount. To learn more about achieving the trust/“too much” balancing act, check out our blog on fostering trust: How to Foster Trust and Independence With Your Middle and High School Child
4. CHECK OUT A TUTOR
Here’s the thing…most parents either don’t have the time to devote to being the “too much” parent or just don’t want to come across as the “bad guy” checking in on their kid. And in that regard, I 100% agree and understand. I think this is where a third party can be very useful. When you enlist a tutor, your kid gets to build an academic relationship with someone who is usually more like a peer. This is a powerful tool for kids. They need to see the fruits of the labor. They always want to know the “why.” Why do we do this in school? What does it really help with? Leave these “whys” to the tutor, their example. Give your child an opportunity to connect with someone else and let the tutor handle all the “bad guy” questions. Let the tutor be “too much.” Then you just get to be the parent. The tutor will update you regularly and you get to be the good guy. And now they get another role model too. Check out our Elementary, Middle School, and High School tutoring services.
5. BRING EDUCATION TO YOUR FAMILY LIFE
Yes, we’re all trapped inside and it’s hard at the moment. But there’s so much available still at home. Find a cool board game, maybe some pictionary, a trivia based video game. Kids love playing and competing with their parents. If you can find a way to incorporate education into their daily life, this will be an even greater opportunity for growth and interest. Remember education is all around you. The rocks and plants just outside your front door might be all your child needs to get excited about science, geology, and biomes. Even if they’re more a movie kid…can you find educational films that teach them about history? Can you get them a coloring book with famous female and BIPOC icons? There are so many ways to bring the learning home and I don’t mean just on Zoom.
Check out our blog with educational resources for more ideas on how to make education fun: K-12 Resources for At-Home & Online Learning