On raising learners

September 16, 2015, by Deena @Shoes to Shiraz

I think it would be fair to say that we all want our children to find success and happiness in life, don't we?  From the minute they are born, we put everything we have (and then some) into raising them to be the best they can be, without really knowing where the road will take us.  There are so many unknowns, aren't there?
What helps a child thrive in school? What kind of factors are in play for them to lose their way? How do I get them to stop bringing mud into the house?  But the biggest question that comes to mind for me, as a parent is:  what can I do to help my children become life-long learners?

I have spent 12+ years in a classroom as a French Immersion teacher, covering grades 5 to 12 and so many different subjects that I'm afraid to list them.  As a teacher, I have come to learn that the role parents play in their child's education is paramount.  
I'm happy to share with you today some of my observations.  I should add that I did consult with some of my esteemed colleagues who teach in different subject areas, just to see if there was a variation in parenting styles.  For the record, there wasn't.

Make your child's education the priority, which sometimes means making sacrifices. Ask specific questions about their day and show interest in their answers.  Be aware of their assignments and assessments used by the teachers.  Ask to see some of your child's work and get them to explain the process they used to create/write/solve it.   When reading with them, check for comprehension by asking questions, or get them to make predictions or make connections to events that happen in your world.  Know who their friends are and what kind of kids they spending their time with at recess. Show interest in their passions and encourage them to pursue what they love.

Lead by example.  Read books with them or beside them as they read.  If they are sitting down to do their homework, sit down with them and work on something.  Show them that hard work pays off. Schedule time in your day for homework, let it become a routine.  Make sure kids do their own work, as tempting as it may be to solve that equation for them....guide them, don't do it for them.

Kids need to know you believe that they are capable.  Push them to work hard and seek help if they are struggling.  Support them in their success and failures.  Kids can frustrate easily and give up, and that's when they need strong parents behind them the most, encouraging and supporting them.
Monitor internet/video games and TV usage.  Check their browser history (learned that the hard way).  Go outside, play a sport, read books, do puzzles and mazes, or play board games instead.  The most successful students that I have ever taught were the immersion/band students.  Learn a musical instrument or a second language.  Get them to push their limits, it will teach them discipline and responsibility.

These may seem daunting and I know they are quite subjective as every kid learns differently. Regardless if your child is an honour roll student or one struggling to find his or her way, celebrate their success and show them the worth they have.  
Because really, in the end, the successful kids are the ones who value themselves and learn to strive to be the best they can be.

In the comments I'd love to hear any tips or tricks that you used or are using to help your kids succeed.  As I write this, my 8 year old is sitting at the table, working on some math,  frowning and then giggling to himself.  I realize my journey has just begun into the realm of parenting a school kid and I can't wait to see what kind of learner he becomes!