Thursday, July 31, 2008

Life-long Learning


By Rachel Goodchild

BY the time children reach school age, they are usually either pretty well behaved most of the time, or they’re brats (read demons) who think they rule the world and won’t pay attention to adults, such as teachers, who are trying to help them.

Are parents to blame for this? Not completely, but how children are treated at home has a profound effect on how they are able to cope with school and the outside world, too.

Nobody wants to live in chaos, and children, in particular, want rules and guidelines, although most of them would deny this.

Much of the time these days, both parents must work in order to make ends meet. Also, there are too many children growing up in single-parent homes, either because of divorce, or because their mother was never married.

This makes it difficult to have enough time to nurture children and teach them ways to be successful.

Though parents are not saints, somehow they must find it in themselves to ensure that their children are their number one priority and quality time must be found to spend with them.

Children need to feel loved and supported. They need to know they can communicate any problems they have with their parents.

They should also learn from an early age that school is important, and good attendance is the key. Parents should not allow their children to stay home from school unless they are running a fever or really seem ill.

Poor attendance is a major reason children don’t do well in school. If the child is allowed to stay home, there should be no fun activities allowed. If they are too sick to go to school, they are too sick to fool around and should be in bed.

Rules must be set and enforced. Homework comes first – before video games or television. Parents should check their child’s homework, and help them with it if necessary.

If the child gets a poor progress report early in the school year, parents should make an appointment with the child’s teacher to see what the problem is.

Parents need to emphasise to the child from an early age how important education is. The ability to read and write will be important all their lives.

Just as when children were toddlers, the family needs to have clear rules and consequences.

Children need at least eight hours of sleep at night, or they won’t be able to concentrate the next day. Turn off television at least half an hour before bed, and read with your child, or discuss how the day went.

Also, set a good example by going to bed at a reasonable time yourself.

Children are usually not reluctant to go to school if they feel they are being successful. It’s also great if you can get children involved in after-school programmes such as sport or other extracurricular activities.

Teamwork is a wonderful feeling and studies have shown that children who engage in extracurricular activities are better students.

Children must also be taught morals and values such as sharing and being kind to others. Whether through a formal church programme, or from modeling at home, values such as kindness, respect, and problem solving in a peaceful manner are important in avoiding resistant behaviour.

Nobody really wants to be the class clown, the bully, or the quiet child who can’t seem to make friends. It’s the parent’s job along with the teacher and school counselor to find out what’s going on. Problems that start in elementary school will only escalate if not monitored carefully.

In this busy, hectic world, it’s hard to find time to give our children all the attention they deserve, but we owe it to them, and to society, to raise responsible children who will one day be in charge.

Families, big and small, need to have rules, limits, and the desire to help one another, their friends and their community.

The art of parenting
Tuesday, July 8, 2008

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