As a parent, you know how important your child’s formative years are. And, as a parent, you know how important it is that you are by your child’s side during their important teenage years.
Science is starting to show that children are most vulnerable to developmental problems during two phases of their lives. The first phase is when children are young, between birth and age three. It’s during these few years that the majority of the personality is formed, and the child is set up for life. But there’s another phase of a child’s life, during and around puberty, that is also developmentally important. That’s why parents need to be on high alert as their teenage child makes his or her way through high school.
The evidence suggests that there is a lot that parents can do to facilitate their child’s educational journey. We constantly hear stores in the media about how money is the main arbiter of a child’s success. But that isn’t what the evidence says. The evidence says that the children who do best in high school are those whose parents support and nurture their learning. Here we’re going to investigate what exactly parents can do to support their children. Let’s take a look.
Show Your Children That You Are Positive About Learning
Parent’s attitudes towards education shape how their children see it. If parents aren’t all that bothered about it, neither will be their children. If they are interested and concerned, so too will be their children. Teenagers react to subtle cues in their parents language and behaviour. So changing the way you talk about education can have a big impact in their attitude to learning at school.
Parents can also show interest in what students are doing at school. Research suggests that teenagers who discuss school topics with parents actually end up more enthusiastic about learning. Often, textbooks can be dry and hard to connect to, especially for teenagers. But parents have an ability to bring topics alive through debating with their children or discussing interesting aspects of a topic. Discussing a subject at school, like history, can make it feel more real, as well as bring you closer to your kids. Take them to historical spots on vacations where they can have hands on experiences!
Help Your Child Prepare For Tests
The academic system, as it stands, is utterly obsessed with testing. Children need to pass tests if they are going to move on and have success in the next stage of their education. Parents don’t have to be passive in this journey. They can take an active role in helping children prepare for tests.
There are four main things parents can do to help their child prepare for a test. The first is to work out exactly what the test wants from the child. This will help you know which questions to ask and which study materials are appropriate.
The next step is to identify all the areas in which your child is struggling. Often teenagers will avoid exercises that they find difficult and concentrate instead on those that they find easy. Grab their textbook and fire out a few practice questions to see which are the areas they struggle with. Then make a note of those areas and get them working on exercises that will help them understand these topics.
The third step isn’t so much of a step, but a stepping back. Parents need to understand that the learning process takes time and that children all operate at different speeds. Let them practice new concepts and topics for a while before interfering again. Often it’ll take a couple of days for a new concept to sink in.
Finally, if you’re worried about the test, talk to their teacher. Your child could be having difficulties at school because of some underlying learning difficulty. If you suspect that your child has additional needs, ask if they can have an assessment before the test. You may discover that they are dyslexic, for instance.
Send Your Teen To School Ready To Learn
According to the data, around a third of school age children skip breakfast. This, unfortunately, can wreak havoc with their ability to learn. Parents, therefore, need to make sure that their teens get an adequate breakfast before setting off to school in the morning.
The benefits of a healthy breakfast are many. Children who eat a healthy breakfast have longer attention spans, better concentration and better memory. But the emphasis here is on the word “healthy.” Don’t feed your kids sugary cereals, white toast, muffins or any other junk in the mornings. Focus on foods that are nutritious. Focus breakfast around whole grains, like oatmeal or whole wheat toast. And then add things like fruit, nuts and natural yogurt.
As a parent, it’s also your job to make sure that your teen gets enough sleep to grow and be ready to learn the next day. Teens need more sleep than adults, thanks to their growing bodies. The average teen needs between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep per night.
Thanks to all the activities that kids do these days, actually getting that much sleep is difficult. Once band practice, baseball practice and going out to see friends is out of the way, there isn’t much time. Lack of sleep is bad for teen’s concentration, attentivement and short-term memory. It’s also bad if your child plays sports, as it increases their reaction times.
When it comes to learning, sleep is essential. When we learn something new, our brains make temporary new pathways between our neurons. We need these pathways to form new concepts and abstract ideas in our brains. When we sleep, these connections get strengthened and reinforced, ensuring that we remember what we’ve learned. So if teens don’t get enough sleep, they’re less likely to absorb what they’re learning.
Parents can do a lot to make sure that their kids get enough sleep. Perhaps the most important thing that they can do is make sure that their kids avoid blue light in the evening before bed. Blue light is the range of light put out by smartphones and computers. Exposure to blue light in the evenings has been associated with poor quality sleep. Scientists believe that blue light interferes with our body’s sleep cycle by tricking our bodies into thinking it’s morning.
You don’t need to take these devices away from your kids to avoid blue light. All you need to do is install apps that remove the blue element. There are many such apps, both for PCs and for portable devices. Check out apps like Flux and Twilight.
Help Your Child Study Overseas
Often the schools and colleges in your local area aren’t the best institutions for your child to study. Sometimes it’s better to study abroad. Studying abroad has many educational benefits for your child. For starters, they’ll get to experience a whole new culture and environment. They’ll also learn how to be independent and stand on their own two feet.
Studying abroad can also lead to much better job opportunities in the future. Getting your child into a British or American school (depending on where you are from) can be a ticket to getting them into a university in one of those countries. Because these are the most dynamic economies in the world, that can also help them to get on the career path in the future.
It’s worth noting however, that studying abroad should always be something the child does voluntarily. Overseas study comes with huge benefits, but it needs to be something ultimately chosen by the child. It’s a big decision to spend vast amounts of your childhood in another land, far away from your parents.
Build Their Organizational Skills
Being successful in education is as much about organization as it is anything else. Teens are notoriously disorganized and flaky, but to succeed they need a bit of discipline. Schools don’t usually teach students organizational skills, so this part of their curriculum must fall to parents.
Parents can do a lot to make sure that their teen’s assignments are kept up to date. Organizing stuff together in folders and notebooks often helps a lot. Parents can also keep calendars up to date with upcoming events and deadlines.
Homework has repeatedly been shown to be an ineffective learning tool and a drain on student’s time. But the education system hasn’t yet caught up the with evidence. Teacher’s still set homework and expect it to be done. And they assign lots of it. Parents can help their children with their homework by preparing a quiet space in which they can work on their projects. Parents can also remove distractions, like the TV, to help them get their work done more quickly.
Deal With Bullying
Finally, it’s worth briefly talking about the issue of bullying. Bullying is a big problem in school. And during the delicate teenage years, it can have an enormously negative effect on your teen’s development. Check your school’s bullying policies. If the school’s policy tries to excuse bullying in the policy, it’s probably a school where the senior staff don’t want to have to confront the issue. Schools that excuse things like “banter” and “teasing” probably don’t take bullying seriously.