This article first appeared in the May-June 2003 issue of Smart Parenting magazine
Providing for your child’s education is one thing, but helping him stay in school, enjoy the experience and be a success is a different story altogether. We asked teachers from the Sacred Heart School to give some wise advice to parents who are anxious about their kids’ school performance, and this is what they told us:
1. Start early. Aiming for your child to be a success in school should start as early as preschool. During these crucial formative years, your child is like a sponge. Whatever she absorbs will form the foundation of her schooling habits, which she’ll carry through the primary and tertiary levels. Start by choosing a good preschool. Talk to the school director and the teachers about the curriculum. Check their facilities. Find out the batting average of their students in passing the entrance exams of elementary schools.
2. Be involved. An involved parent makes the child a successful learner. Genevieve Grefalde, a senior nursery adviser says, “Monitor the child’s specific requirement for any subject. Assist him in doing simple research and accomplishing projects. Doing so serves as reinforcement and encouragement to your child. It also gives you and your child an opportunity to spend time with each other.”
3. Listen. Val Castillo, senior nursery adviser says, “No matter how busy you are, always find time to listen to your child. Children always have something to say. By listening, you will know what they feel and how they process events in their lives. You will get to know about their teacher, their friends and even their yaya. Most of all, it will make them feel important and loved.”
4. Answer his questions patiently. “A child has so many questions about the things around him because he is curious. Everything is new to him,” says Gemma Bernal, music teacher. “Answer his questions but at the same time, train him to find answers on his own by researching through books and the Internet. If he has questions you cannot answer, be humble enough to admit that you don’t know. Tell him to give you time to search for the proper answer.”
5. Be prepared. Fidela Ineco, math teacher, says, “Studying a lesson in advance would be a big help to children for they will be confident enough to participate in classroom activities. It will also teach children the value of preparation and prevent them from getting into the bad habit of cramming. When they are prepared, the possibility of getting good grades is higher. School also becomes easier if they are always ready.”
6. Be your child’s number one cheerleader. Mary Windy R. Lachica, a senior nursery class adviser, says, “Even a simple good deed deserves praise. Praising your child motivates him to achieve bigger things and helps him attain his maximum potential. Positive comments such as ‘wow’ and ‘wonderful’ boost a child’s confidence.”
7. Make learning fun. Cecil Dudas, science teacher, shares, “Make study time fun and exciting. If possible, use modern technology like computers to achieve this goal.” Joan Abiera, arts and music teacher, adds, “Get them educational toys so they can learn as they play. Parents should try to establish the art of thinking and analyzing even while their children are at play. Learning becomes easier this way.”
8. Teach your child to be independent. A common pitfall of parents is to do every little thing for their children. We all love to be needed but in the long run, it will help boost your child’s self-esteem if he is taught to do simple tasks.
9. Pose a challenge. Ariane Bernabe, junior nursery adviser, says, “Challenge your children to become conscious about their grades. At an early age, children should already be aware of their performance in school. Parents should explain to their children the importance of school, the knowledge they can gain, and the experience and fun they can get from it.”
10. Teach your child the value of punctuality. Marilyn Apolimar, Filipino teacher, says, “It is never too early to teach your child good values. Teach your child to be punctual. Help your child manage his time. Going to school on time and passing requirements in school are examples of punctuality. This is a value that will be very useful when he grows older and something that he will eventually treasure.”
11. Have a healthy attitude towards your child’s performance in school. Though good grades definitely make you happy, it is not the be-all and end-all of your child’s school life. A child’s growth is not only measured in academic terms. One must also consider his growth emotionally, socially and psychologically.
12. Handle your child’s problems in school carefully. Problems may arise such as bad habits, aggression towards others, becoming a victim of intense teasing, or refusal to go to school. First, talk to your child and then to his teacher. He may be looking for more attention from you. He may also be upset about a new family activity, or may be having a hard time handling a bully in school. Whatever the problem, give him your full attention. Ask his teacher to watch out for him at school.
13. Kids are teachers, too. Odette Villaluz, kindergarten teacher says, “Children can also be teachers even in small ways. They show us things we may have forgotten. Children remind us about the importance of making friends, sharing and helping others. When we are with them we also remember to laugh, to appreciate the smallest things and to give and accept pure, unconditional love.”
14. Let him discover the wonderful world of books. Nhanette Lampitoc, junior nursery adviser, says, “Provide your child with good books and read to him. By reading, he learns about new things, places and experiences. Thus, he becomes more mature as he is exposed to various characters and events through books. However, parents should carefully choose the books their children read. Children have a tendency to believe anything they read.”
15. Treat your child as a unique individual with his own strengths and weaknesses. Never compare him with other children. This may ruin his self-confidence and mark him badly until adulthood.