Somewhere between Sesame Street and Melrose Place, your child might hit a few bumps in the road. It's hard to be an impartial observer when your kid's self-esteem takes a hit, so it's good to know there are things you can do to help.
Jeff Haig, educational consultant, and author of Unlock Your Educational Potential
, says "the key to educational success is to prepare for a lifetime of success." Cool philosophy, that one: Help your kids do great things in life, and the side effect, as it were, is that they'll do well in school.
Take a look at Haig's tips, and our suggestions for implementing them.
Tip #1: Know your outcome, and begin with a vision
Haig advises that kids identify what they want to accomplish in the upcoming school year.
How you can help: Your child should write down a concrete goal that's within his control. Your job is to help him understand that "win the science fair" isn't something he can control, but "submit a great entry to the science fair" is.
Figure out the checkpoints on the way to the goal, and write them down. For example, the child who wants to improve his jump shot can commit to practicing forty minutes daily, trying out for the basketball team, working with a friend or a coach, and so on.
Tip #2: Be a proactive goal setter
Teach your kids to have a take-charge mentality, says Haig. "Have long-term goals and short-term goals that will get you to your destination."
How you can help: Let your kids know that they don't have to wait for the school to announce the spelling bee before they start preparing. Encourage them to start working towards their goals today, right this minute.
Show them how a series of short-term goals can chart the way to the big prize. No one learns French in a day. But an extra 20 minutes of studying daily will almost surely translate to higher grades -- and a greater command of the language.
Tip #3: Use all of the resources that you can
Anyone striving for success needs cheerleaders. Haig recommends that kids surround themselves with people who present a strong positive influence. "Build a team of people who can help get you to where you desire to go," he urges.
How you can help: Look beyond the walls of the school if necessary, to outside friends, tutors, or other mentors who can help your child succeed.
Does your child want to work in broadcast journalism? Ask your Facebook peeps to put you in touch with the director of the local station and have your kid apply for an internship.
Tip #4: Put it all together
As the school year kicks into full gear, take a few minutes to sit down with your child and create a success plan.
How you can help: Snag an extra composition book and help him write down everything he'll do to reach that goal, and figure out all the steps along the way. Then, while he is still thinking about it, set up a couple of checkpoint dates where you'll both sit down and see where he is.
As your child goes through the year, be his biggest fan. Let him see how proud you are of his efforts -- even if he doesn't get all the way to the finish line.
Maybe you can't take your kids back to the comfort of Sesame Street, but you can definitely make sure that the road ahead is full of great possibilities.
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