New Year, New (Smarter) You: this one’s for the parents!

Learning is fun
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Okay okay, so in 2015 you yelled, you cried, you threatened – and it didn’t REALLY work – did it? You vow that 2016 will be the year that your child takes ownership over school, but you need to make sure that happens without losing your sanity! I get it, and I’ve got ideas!

I was on Global Television’s morning show last week with my top three tips on how to help your child while helping yourself. I wanted to share those tips in written form, and add a few more to the list – so here I go!

1. Give your child the independence they crave. This isn’t as scary as it sounds – I promise! Your teenager wants to feel as though you trust them, and as though they’re independent – they crave it. Cut them a deal: if they can show you a study schedule (make them SHOW you) and stick to it, you’ll stop bugging them to study. Simple – you get to stop stressing, they get to do all the work – just like you always wanted! Make sure you come up with a concrete plan with timelines. They get to try their plan for two weeks, or until their next test or assignment is due. Once you see how they’ve done on that evaluation, you can decide whether the schedule is working or not! Oh, and make sure you check in with their teacher to see if their homework is being done – if their schedule is as tight as they profess, they should be getting everything done on time, and it should show in class!

2. Get connected.  As a parent, it’s important to use your resources (aka precious, precious TIME!) wisely. Stressing over your kid’s homework is a futile way to spend time – but using that time to connect with your child’s teachers = useful! Get to know each and every one of them and ask the following:

  1. How is my child currently doing?
  2. How can they improve (specifically)?
  3. How can I help you help them?

We’re all busy, so if you can’t find time to actually hit the classroom, send them an email. Teachers want to help, and they want your child to do well. Taking a few minutes to make the connection and to find out what their expectations are will let them know that you – and your child – really care!

3. Go Feng Shui.  Okay you don’t have to like, totally go Feng Shui, but you should definitely consider creating a chill study zone in your home. Often kids find it hard to get in the groove because they don’t have a designated space that triggers that study-vibe lurking within. Create a designated space to be used for schoolwork ONLY – and keep it that way!

4. Emphasize effort instead of grades.  Sometimes it feels like the only purpose of doing homework, doing well on tests, and spending countless hours studying, is to achieve some sort of benchmark. A student once asked me what the point was of putting in the amount of effort she did, if she didn’t ultimately get the grade she wanted. I was totally shocked – and sort of really sad! Working hard in school not only builds character and work ethic – it turns your mind into a kaleidoscope of information that never existed before! Learning is amazing and learning HOW to learn is amazing. Just because your child’s marks aren’t skyrocketing, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t working hard and gaining something from the experience. Make sure you place importance on the process so that they feel confident and productive always!

5. Help your child set and achieve THEIR goals.  We spend so much time emphasizing our goals that we forget that our kids are little humans with dreams and aspirations of their own. It’s not really that inspiring trying to reach goals set by someone ELSE. And that’s why this is the best idea ever.

Think about it: it’s hard for kids to get motivated when it seems as though their life is an endless pile of work. School has a purpose, and that purpose is to ultimately place your child in a position to achieve their dreams. This is the perfect time to sit down with your child and have a heart to heart – get them to write down a list of goals, short and long term. Without pressure, talk to them about how they might achieve those goals. Getting focused in a casual way can be not only anxiety-reducing, but really inspiring! Plus, you can finally stop asking them WHAT THE HECK THEY PLAN TO DO WITH THEIR LIVES!

Got a tip on how to make 2016 the year your child does academically better without driving you nuts? Let us know – comment below!