Talking Makes the Difference
Taking a few minutes to really connect with your child about his/her school day is very important. Ask specific questions such as, "What was the most interesting thing that happened at school today?" or "Tell me about lunch today." General questions like, "How was your day?" may end up with a one word response like, "Fine."
You may spend a lot of time in the car with your child so use that time to have meaningful conversations. You can also exchange notes with your child. Notes can be compliments on a job well done or just to let your child know you are thinking about him/her. Encourage your child to write you back. Notes are another way to say, "I love you." Notes don't have to be long to keep the lines of communication open while building self-esteem and writing skills.
Listening is Valuable
Being a good listener tells your child that he/she is very valued. People usually respond more readily to someone they know will listen. Active listening is sometimes difficult with our busy schedules and it is an acquired art that does not always come naturally. Children need your time and attention.
Helpful techniques include:
- making good eye contact and leaning toward someone while talking
- encouraging the person talking with statements like, "Tell me more about...", "Describe how that makes you feel."
- showing interest with statements like, "Wow, that must have been..."
- restating points with statements like, "Tell me if I heard you correctly..."
Remember the 80/20 Rule
Businesses often use the "80/20 Rule." Basically this means 80% of the results of any job come from just 20% of the effort. Use this rule in deciding how to spend your time.
Proper Rest is a Must!
Deciding on a bedtime and enforcing the time is important in order to keep your child from being fussy and irritable the next day. Children learn better if they are well rested.
In order to get the most out of education, being at school and being on time is very important. If your child is sick, please call the school and let us know.
Middle School Students are Learning
None of us are perfect and our children haven’t learned all we know about behavior yet. If your child does well in general but makes a mistake, let him/her learn from mistakes and continue to focus on the positive aspects of his/her behavior. Always focus on the mistake, not the child. Deposit so many positive praises into your child’s account that when you must talk about a negative, your child’s self worth doesn’t suffer.
Important Life Skills
Teaching the following skills will benefit everyone throughout life:
- Kindness - Children's feelings are fragile. Encourage your child to be kind to all students. If they see another child being bullied or having hurt feelings, ask them to say something kind to the students and refuse to join in with the bully.
- Friendliness - people enjoy speaking to a friendly face. Encourage your child to speak and smile back to students and teachers who speak and smile. Remind your child to treat others the way they would like to be treated and to be good listeners.
- Organizational Skills – Encourage the use of the Student Planner. Make a special time and quiet place for homework. Keep school supplies available. Prepare the night before for the next day by making sure all assignments are completed, book bags are packed and clothes are picked out before going to bed. (For more homework tips see the Academic Support and Homework Tips link.)
- Self Control – Emphasize the importance of staying in control of one’s attitude, work ethic, temper, hygiene, nutrition and exercise. Each time your child makes positive steps in these areas, praise him/her for making good decisions. Give plenty of smiles and hugs! Some good praise phrases are:
It's important to be sincere and not sarcastic when using praise phrases. Children (and adults) thrive on praise so avoid put-downs even when you're joking.
- Responsibility - Each child has a responsibility to help make the family rules work. Likewise, at school each child must be responsible to do their part in making in-school rules work. Without rules, our families, schools and society would be chaotic.
- Tolerance - Encourage your child to value and appreciate differences. We don’t all look the same, act the same and do the same things. Life would be very boring if that were the case!
- Goals - Encourage goal-setting by getting your child to write down his/her goals. Read, discuss and set new goals regularly.
- Peer Pressure - Talk about positive and negative peer pressure. You may want to practice role-playing with negative peer pressure. There are many different ways to say no through humor, reasoning or looking at negative consequences.
- School Success - Make school important. Help develop a system to insure that your child leaves for school with everything he/she needs. Make study time available each day. Recognize learning styles and remember not all children learn in the same way. Some learn easier by seeing, some by hearing and some by touching, doing and moving.
- Attitude is Everything - Encourage your child to keep a positive attitude about new opportunities, new friends, growing experiences, etc.