Engaging with Your Child's Academics

July 30, 2019 0 Comments

As a parent, you understand the importance of your child having a solid foundation of academic skills. Your child’s education is one of the most essential tools to provide for them. Their knowledge and use of such skills will open up opportunities and guide them into a rewarding future. So it’s nerve wracking as a parent to sit back and wonder if there is anything more you can do to help them.

There is.

Schools and academic programs do their best to develop their knowledge and skills within the classroom. Homework assignments are meant to engage these skills outside of school hours to activate self-sufficient learning styles and consistently exercise the development. And staying in the loop about your child’s academic performance is healthy and engaging for all parties.

Now that doesn’t mean you need to check your child’s homework agenda every night and sign-off on every assignment they complete. Nor does it mean that you should email every one of their teachers and ask them for daily updates. Instead, take advantage of the progress reports that get sent home and the open houses for parent-teacher interactions. These provisions are meant to keep parents in the know about their children, allow their children to take pride in their work, and offer feedback for any lacking progress.

But what if you want to be more involved than that?

It is okay and arguably healthier for their performance that you do not monitor their academics every moment of the day that they are not in school. Keep in mind that much of academic development is allowing your child to take ownership for their work. Students need to learn to balance their own discipline for completing assignments. However, that does not mean they don’t need guidance or assistance.

Having your child complete their homework at a designated time is a simple solution to guiding them towards consistent academic progress. Requesting that they complete their assignments in a more communal family area for monitoring, such as the kitchen table, can provide structure to their schedule and development. While they complete their schoolwork, use the communal space to create casual conversation to stay in the loop. Ask them if they need help with their work. This provides them an opportunity to merely tell you what they are learning about or possibly tell you if they are struggling with a subject or topic. And if you do not know how to help, sitting down with your child to provide assistance gives everyone a chance to understand where the extra help is needed to eventually find the solution. It’s a lot easier to read feedback from the teacher about you child needing to stay after school for tutoring when you at least know why. But if your home lacks a functioning workspace for your student and they need to do their work in the bedroom, limit their electronic use to promote focus while they finish the work. You can still use dinner time to engage them about what they are learning.

Creating casual conversations and discussions about academics can be a key in discovering your student’s needs. Additionally, these conversations can be the moment your child takes pride in their work. Ask your child if they have done any projects or reports lately. Or if they’ve received any quizzes or test scores back. If they haven’t done well in these areas, this is the chance to start being proactive as a parent and giving guidance to your child. When they see improvement, or if they have been receiving great scores, give them well-deserved credit. Remember that building a student’s self-confidence and receiving a healthy amount of praise only creates a strong bond for continually keeping you in the loop for their schoolwork in the future. And this will only build upon how you can stay involved.

Going Beyond Traditional Teaching

Sometimes children and teens do not need monitoring for academic success. And if they do, sometimes they need to be able to separate their parent from being a homework monitor. Going beyond the question and answer styles of “Did you do your homework?”, “What did you learn about?” and “When’s your next test?” can help build a more creative bond between you and your child.

Finding out what your student likes to learn about can be the center of giving them engaging content. Does your child like to read for leisure? Ask them if they have read any good books lately. That can be a starter for bringing them to the library or bookstore and give them more freedom in what they want to read. Sometimes the freedom of choice can help inspire their own learning as reading a book about their favorite athlete or a fantasy-fiction novel can be their own creative break.

Reading is an essential skill and continually giving them opportunities to engage with it on their own terms can be a key aspect in helping develop that skill. By letting your child choose a book in the library or store, you’re letting them have a chance to be inspired and face the words at their own pace. This is known to be helpful for engaging students who dislike reading in general. But if your child is extremely resistant to reading, engaging them on a different platform can help build on other academic skills.

Instead of asking them to read, give them a blank notebook to write freely. Encourage them to journal, which is known to help promote organizational skills and mental clarity. Remind them that as a parent, you won’t read it, and stay true to it. Once again, this guidance without the “helicopter” effect gives your child freedom to learn and engage at their own pace, without judgment. Knowing that writing and reading go hand-in-hand, the journaling encouragement may lead your student to discover that there is a genre of books they have interest in, such as poetry, or short-stories.

Or perhaps your student is not inspired by the idea of journaling. That blank notebook can be turned into a doodles book. If your student is likely to use their artistic and creative side, being given a place to put their creative designs may help give them a break from academia. Additionally, providing them with puzzles and engaging games can be a good way to discover what academic skills they are likely to exercise. Toys such as Legos or 3D puzzles are known to exercise design skills and spatial awareness, which tend to correspond towards technical development.

"Giving your child multiple mediums to not only discover, but develop their skills in a way that they enjoy is the key to engaging their skills continually, and eventually across multiple platforms."

One other option of reaching out to your child and their interests is by utilizing a form of media. Use the movies that correspond to their interests to inspire a family movie night. Although it does not seem academically driven, watching a movie about an inspiring athlete or famous historical moment can be an outlet for you to not only bond with your child, but give them exposure to obtaining information in a form that they can process. Because at the end of the day, giving your child multiple mediums to not only discover, but develop their skills in a way that they enjoy is the key to engaging their skills continually, and eventually across multiple platforms.

For example, if you know that you have a student highly interested in athletics, but does not like reading, watch a sports movie together. On your spare time, keep an eye out for the ESPN specials on historical moments in sports or incredible achievement stories. Pick up a sports magazine for your student to browse, but try to find an article they might like and guide them to it. Giving them small articles seems more casual and digestible than a full auto-biography of an athlete. Over time, your student may find that the articles inspire their own thirst for knowledge and guide them towards alternative media forms, such as podcasts or audiobooks. Ideally, small interactions can help foster healthy engaging activities with your child and knowledge.