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Parenting for Success

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Bravus, May 26, 2009.

  1. (take it for what it's worth)

    Thirteen ways you can help your children succeed in school and life.

    1. Read to them from birth, read with them, have them read to you. Read for pleasure yourself. Show them that reading is fun, get a library card for yourself and for them. Without this, no amount of literacy lessons will really help, with it none will really be necessary - but the ones they have will be much more effective. Doesn’t matter what they read, as long as they read lots.

    2. Dramatically limit TV viewing for yourself and them. In our family we did it the simple way, by not having a TV at all. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with TV in itself, just that it’s a time sink that will tend to mean you don’t do any of the other things on this list, or if you do they’re cut short. Time is key, and the TV is a black hole for time.

    3. Eat dinner together at the dinner table and ask them about their day. And don’t accept “nuthin’†for an answer. Ask questions, be interested, listen, engage with the ideas they’re learning and talking about. Discuss events and ideas with them. Talk about values and beliefs - and also make bad puns and dumb jokes. Have fun with language and ideas.

    4. My wife Sue was a member of Toastmasters when our daughters were small, and had to do impromptu one minute speeches. We made it a game with the kids on long car trips, and they learned to marshal their thoughts and present them clearly and concisely, without saying ‘um’ or ‘er’ (or ‘like’).

    5. There’s simply no substitute for time with them. Maybe one or both parents can work less and spend more time at home? No matter how good the afterschool care centre, their parents are better. Not meant to make anyone feel guilty about what they choose - but it’s just plain fun to hang out with them, why deprive yourself?

    6. On the same topic, if your job is demanding 60 hours a week, either push back or find a new job. They’re only young once and they grow up real fast - do you want to miss it? There’s good research to show that more hours at work are not actually productive anyway, but some workplaces and some industries have very dysfunctional cultures. Your kids are worth getting proactive for… and it’ll enhance your own life (and make you live longer) too.

    7. Help them with their homework. Have a time after dinner when you all sit down at the dining table or in some other regular place. You can read or work or play Sudoku, but be there with them and help them with their homework. If you don’t understand it, show them that it’s possible to go to books and the Internet and find things out. Show them that knowledge is a resource available to everyone these days, and help instil the confidence that if they don’t know something they can find out. And you’ll definitely learn some interesting stuff yourself in the process of helping with their homework. You’ll also have a better understanding of where they’re up to and any particular learning strengths and weaknesses.

    8. Teach them their times tables and how to add and subtract. Don’t be scared to chant tables in the car in long trips, create flashcards, test them, drill them. For a variety of reasons it’s no longer fashionable for schools to do this, yet it’s one of the foundations of really useful and comfortable numeracy. In the same way that showing them that reading is important and enjoyable works to enhance their own literacy, modelling the fact that you can quickly estimate the number of eggs needed if you double the cake recipe and talking through the multiplication out loud can make them comfortable with numbers. And if you are not comfortable with numbers yourself, *don’t* tell them so, and *do* take steps to become so…

    9. Send them to a school in a suburb you can’t afford to live in. It’s unfair and something we should work toward fixing for everyone’s kids, but it’s irrefutable that there is a massive correlation between wealth and academic achievement. So for my own kids I’m going to take advantage of that. We’ve always sent the kids to good public schools in posher suburbs than the ones we were living in. Wealthier kids whose parents are professionals are going to take it for granted that they will be professionals too, and approach their school work with that assumption, and that won’t necessarily be the case in suburbs where many parents are on welfare or working in laboring or service jobs. Schools in wealthier suburbs are also often better maintained and supported by more active P&C committees and so on.

    10. Do your research. Get into the whisper-stream of parents and find out which schools have good reputations *and for what*. Match that to your own goals and values.

    11. Get to know their teacher(s). Don’t make a pest of yourself, but being interested and involved, offering to volunteer, asking the teacher about your child’s school life in general, not just his/her grades, attending parent-teacher evenings and so on is all important in building the relationships that support your child’s learning. And if you have been helping with homework you will be able to give the teacher useful information about your child’s particular needs.

    12. Dream big for them, but non-specific. Lots and lots of heartbreak for both parents and kids when the parents set their hearts on their kid becoming a doctor or lawyer and the kid either doesn’t have the academic ability or just isn’t interested in that particular life. Letting them know that you’ll support them and love them no matter what they do, but that you think they’re capable of amazing things, is far more productive for all concerned.

    13. Be amazed by and interested in the world around you. It’s not necessary to know a lot of science, though knowing some can help make things even more interesting. But take them to museums and science centres and art galleries. If you do have TV, get Discovery, if not get the DVDs – but more important than that, get them out in nature, walking around and looking and observing. Listen to science shows on the radio and discuss the issues with your kids. It’ll be their world real soon, and better they should know it and love it than ignore it or fear it.

    Of course, all of these things work much better if you do them from birth, but no matter how old your kids are now, changing your patterns so that you do some or all of these things will absolutely, positively help them succed at school and in life.
  2. And am I allowed to add ... ?

    Pregnant ladies, don't smoke or drink. You might think it isn't harming you, but baby doesn't have a choice....

    Parents, children will do what they see modelled; if you plan on being a powerful example, you WILL have to modify some of your habits and behaviours. Children learn more of what they see than what they hear.
  3. All good points. My quids worth:

    Never scoff at a question, all questions are legitimate - at any age, about any subject.

    Never answer a question with "to keep out the rabbits". If you don't know, say so. Then the next game is to show/teach them how to find out, be interested enough to find the answer with them.

    Keep talking and reading with them.

    Let them know how much you love them, often, even when you are disciplining them - "I love you very much, its your behaviour that I don't like".

    Draw a behavioural line-in-the-sand and ensure there are consequences for crossing it. Teach them that there are boundaries in life.

    Take them to Gymbaroo from 6 months (OK, shameless plug, but it is good for the kids!)

    They are young for such a short time, and in your influence for even shorter - make it count.
  4. Excellent points, both.
  5. Excellent topic and great advice...

    My addition is to speak to your kids without using 'baby' language. It broadens their vocabulary and gives them confidence when speaking. I do this with my son (he is 4) and when I use a word he doesnt know he asks me what it means. He speaks clearly and at times quite eloquently for someone so young - he also gets lots of praise and encouragement from me and his teachers at kindy when he uses 'big' words - what child doesnt love that?

    In saying that its not worth anything if it is forced - learning should be fun, no matter what level it is at!
  6. I agree with whats written above, and will be following most of that in the next decade or two I might have kids in :LOL:

    Especially the no-baby-language. Teach them to be adults, not kids.

    No TV. Too much poor quality and influential content on it. I wouldn't want any kids picking up habits and behavior they see on TV.

    Pay attention to their homework. Get to know the school and the content they'll be learning. As a kid, I didn't seek much help with school work, and unfortunately my parents didn't have time for much. This was a pity.

  7. :mad: :mad: :mad: My ex is f***ing with my unborn child by smoking and drinking (don't know to what extent the drinking is going on - in fact, don't know about anything anymore through not being told anything when I've asked so no longer have any contact). Of course, she knows better.... just like she did with everything else. I no longer care if she burns out her lungs but I do care about what she's doing to a little one who is having their decision made for them.
  8. Get them interested in music at a young age - Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, Tschaikowsky, Mendelssohn et al. (Oh and dixieland jazz of course! :grin:)

  9. +100000 LOL My son has a kids guitar he plays and he makes up these little songs. He came up with one a couple weeks ago saying he didnt know what he wanted to be when he grew up, but that maybe he could be a superhero lol
  10. That all sounds like great advice (albeit really just common sense) - I know that Dougz and I will definitely try to take it on board.

    I've already started reading to Jackson - We actually started when he was days old. Although I felt a bit stupid doing it when he was that young I knew he was learning already. Now we read everyday if possible and he picks up the books, chews the edges, turns the pages and pats some of the pictures and giggles.

    We also listen to plenty of music and I take him to mini maestros once a week.

    I've also noticed that some of the best toys are not necessarily the most expensive ones - I made a toy out of long strips of sequined fabric and he likes to pull it and wave it around. Another toy is an old biscuit tin and a wooden spoon to bang on it with. I also bought a pencil case made entirely of zips and put wax paper inside it.

    One question I do have about public primary schools is about zoning and enrollment. Are there catchment areas etc? I know we have a couple of years before we need to worry but it's worth keeping in mind in case we need to move.
  11. This reminds me of the thousands of times I was sent downstairs to the encyclopedia shelf. :)

  12. There are catchment areas for schools so be strategic and think about where you're going to live.

  13. My son starts school next year and I had to put in an application because the school is outside our zone. Ironically it is only 5 minutes from home lol. It is one of the best in the area though so fingers crossed.
  14. There sure are, but be aware that the tidal shifts in pre-schooler populations make it very difficult to predict. Five years ago the school our daughter has started prep at was in danger of closing down. This year it turned kids away.

    You can apply for virtually any school but if it is over-subscribed they will revert to distance and catchment zones (straight-out distance is usually the final measure, but not always).
  15. Yeah, we put our girls into school sooner than we'd planned when we got back from Canada because the borders were about to close (with us outside them) for the school we'd already chosen for them. Got them in there and are very glad of it. You should definitely start on your research what seems preposterously early!

    I agree that what I've listed there is pretty commonsense stuff: but would also point out this .sig: "Common sense: So rare these days it's a ^*%*& superpower". (not sure if it saw it here or elsewhere)

    Hopefully most parents who care at all are doing a lot of it, but even though it's common sense a lot of people aren't, and some of it goes against the flow of general society. Thought it was worth floating it out there.

    Loads of excellent additions, too.
  16. This is all good stuff to read about and it's good to know that there are still people out there that have some refreshing ideas about how they want their kids to be brought up. I really agree about reading and learning together with your kids. I remember things that my parents did for me as a kid and one of them was always encouraging reading from as soon as possible.

    I'm hanging on to all my old videos and my old video games in the hope that one day my kids might take interest in them - haha....I always loved nintendo as a kid!!!

    I don't want my kids to have soft drink! I hate the stuff. I put alot of time and effort into healthy cooking and living a healthy lifestyle and I want the same for my kids.

    I agree about the telly. An hour in the afternoon for kids is well and truly enough. And no internet! I know I'll want to keep them off the net till they're well into their teens (I bet that will be impossible but it's just so scary for kids...)

    those are my thoughts for now. I don't expect that everyone agrees with them but yeah... :)
  17. +1. Reminds me of when my kids where young, Sometimes I'd play classical music CD's in the car and make up a story to suit the music. It was a lot of fun, the kids loved it. Never turn the music on at the expense of conversation, make music the conversation if necessary. My kids are now teenagers and still interested in all sorts of music, unfortunately now with individual iPods it is often at the expense of conversation, until I confiscate them!

    We used the shot-gun approach: Applied for all the schools we thought we should, public and private. Easy to say no-thanks if an offer happens, hard to get a place late if you haven't applied (as we experieinced when we had to move one child because of bullying).
  18. As a kid, things are more enjoyable if you're good at them. Even spelling and reading and writing and math. But teach them co-ordination as well! How to throw a ball, bounce a ball, kick a ball, swing a bat, swim. It compounds, if a kid doesnt get picked in teams from the start they don't improve at the same rate, an effect very clearly shown by studies of school starting ages (kids that are young for their grade vs old for their grade). Yeah yeah, it's all just sport, but it's social and healthy, and if they're in a decent school they won't be allowed to compete unless their discipline and academic side of things is up to scratch.

    Which would bring me to another point.... what is it with fat kids, and fat pets? FFS, it takes no self control on the parents/owners behalf to feed them better food, and not spoil them.
  19. <-- couldn't tell... :wink:
  20. :p