Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to curb the downward trend in our children’s academics

A National study was released in Canada about 15 year-olds and their academic achievement.  It used results from the national tests in math, reading, and science.  The results of 2009 were paired up against results from the previous national test in that subject.  The finding is that on a national average, and in each province, there was a decrease in the average scores in math, science, and reading.  With the biggest struggles coming in math and reading, and a little in science.

What was interesting, was looking a school preparedness, children seemed adequately prepared for grade-school in the early years, but left lacking as they got older.  So here are a few recommendations to keep your kids up to pace with receiving good grades at school, and fair better in math, reading, and science.
First, keep reading to, or with your children.  Read books at their age appropriate level, but also challenge them in their reading. Read aloud together.  Read books on topics that are of interest for your children. For families of faith, read your canon of scripture together.  It is believed that most scriptures are at a grade 10 reading level.

Second, get rid of any product that claims to make your child a genius.  These products set up false hopes for parents, place unneeded development pressure on children.  In particular, I think of baby-Einstein products.  If your child is struggling in certain courses, find a tutor; or learn the subject better yourself so you can help your child understand the topic.

Third, beware of over-scheduling.  I coached basketball this past winter.  I was amazed at how many of my players not only played basketball, but were also involved in hockey, and jazz, and a variety of other things.  Hockey was about 3-4 times a week, basketball was 2-3 times a week, band/jazz was 3 times a week.  When did they have time to do homework?  When did they have time to spend with their family?  When did they have a chance to learn and figure things out on their own in unstructured time?

Fourth, make sure you share a meal together as a family.  The common recommendation is dinner.   However, if that isn’t possible, try to have breakfast or lunch together.  Make it a routine.  Engage your children in conversation.  Time and time again, research has shown the benefits of eating together as a family.   Especially with the TV off.

Speaking of the TV.

Fifth, discriminate what is watched on the TV.  This is easily done when there is a limit to how much one can watch on the TV.  Set a cap, stick to it.  Also, watch appropriate shows for development of your children.

Sixth, help your child with homework.  Not that you need to supervise them for every assignment, or answer all of the questions, but be willing to participate. Be ready to help them figure out how to get the answers, and help them calm down when they are getting frustrated.  Help provide them with the means necessary to complete their homework.  This includes space, tools, and time.

Lastly, be involved as best and as much as possible. While it is great that you can download an app on your iPhone that can help your children count, learn the alphabet, read to them, and teach them about astronomy.  Use those as tools for education, not the source.  Count with them, sing the alphabet with them, read with them, and take them outside to stargaze.

What are some ways that you are helping your child succeed in school?

Written by:

Josh Lockhart Locking Hearts Together

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