Research continually affirms that parental engagement is crucial for children’s academic success; here are helpful tips for parents.
According to marriage and parenting expert Gary Smalley:
“affirming words from moms and dads are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child’s life and it’s like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities.”
How to Be Engaged in the Lives of Your Children
Schedule Time to Spend With Your Kids
Debates often rage about whether so-called ‘quality’ time is more important than the quantity of time spent with kids but in general, this presents a zero sum game that doesn’t reflect true life. In reality, having a conversation with your child while you empty the dishwasher can be just as beneficial as taking your child to the ballgame. The important thing is that you spend time interacting with your children in a variety of settings and engage with them in a variety of ways. Look for natural opportunities to engage with your kids in the mundane activities of life but also sprinkle in learning activities with them like trips to the zoo or museum.
Ask Your Kids Questions and Let Your Kids Share With You What They Are Learning
Not only does this show your children that you care about them and their education, it gives you an opportunity to see what subjects your child is excited about and which subjects your child might dislike and/or be struggling with — and this provides you with the ability to encourage them in their strengths and help them conquer challenges in areas where they are weaker. Conversations on pretty much any topic can be helpful for children, too, simply by nature of the vocabulary you use, the logic you employ, and the connections you make from one subject area to another. Conversations are a great way to model good thinking for your kids.
Take Advantage of the Educational Resources All Around You
Take your kids to the library to check out books and see what special library programs are available over the summer. Spend a day at a local museum. Visit an art gallery. Attend a musical at the local theater or listen to a live performance from an orchestra. Many times there are educational opportunities near you that are low-cost or even free. A simple Google search can yield results about educational opportunities in your area that you might not have even know about.
As parents, we don’t have to be experts or academic geniuses to have a positive influence on our child’s educational progress. By simply being engaged with our kids, we are helping them build foundational learning skills that will help them throughout their education. And in the words of Angela Schwindt, “while we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”
Part four of a four part series on parental engagement.