As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. You have great knowledge about their strengths, weaknesses and experiences. This puts you into the perfect position to advocate for your child, after all, you are their first and most influential teacher and their biggest supporter. Here are 4 basic tips that will get your kids (and you) off to a great start.
"Early to bed, early to rise keeps you healthy wealthy and wise." As an attachment-based therapist, I highly recommend using breakfast as an opportunity to get some bonding time in. If you are home before they go to school, try just 5 minutes/child. A hug, a smile and sitting down with them can have a huge impact on their day. Alternately, packing lunches or snacks together can give you a minute or two to capture your child's attention and show them that you care about them.
Being sent to bed should not be viewed as a punishment. As the parent, it's your job to make sure your child is getting enough rest. Now, you can't force a child to sleep, so try for "lights out" and "put the screens to bed" also. If you're kids are younger, a bedtime routine or ritual can help (for example; bath, pj's, snack, teeth, read together) or if your kids are older try taking them a warm/cold drink and just hanging out while you drink it. And remember, a child of any age can be tucked in :)
"Stay tuned to your child’s experiences." Have you ever asked your child "How was your day at school?" only to get an "Okay"? It's time to tune in! Instead, try asking about the best and worst parts of the day, ask them what they learned in school, ask them what they learned on their lunch break, ask them what they wished they had learned. The trick is, that you have to engage and listen-your ears will never get you in trouble like your mouth can. What I mean is don't criticize or use sarcasm and watch your body language. Kids will learn not to talk if these are the responses they get back. This only takes 5 minutes and fits nicely with an after school snack or drink.
Get involved with the school. Whether you have 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days a week, find out what you can do to contribute and do it. Make friends with the school, the staff, the kids and the parents. This may feel like a burden or just one more thing to add to your to do list, but there may come a day when knowing these folks and being on a friendly basis with them will have a big payoff for you. Make the effort and see for yourself.
Get to know your child’s teachers. Getting to know your child’s teachers will not only benefit you, it will greatly improve your child’s chance of success in school. Here's a few tips:
It takes a village to raise a child who is healthy, caring and responsible. Building your village starts with the network you develop. And remember, all aspects of parenting can be tough, but asking for help doesn’t have to be. For more information about advocating for your child in school or other parenting challenges, visit the UPBRINGINGS Counselling website at www.upbringings.ca