| from Dr. Kathy Koch |

No matter what school setting children are in, parents want them to do well. I’m sure you’re no exception. If I asked you how you could help children do well in school, what would you say?

Children tell me that they resent it when parents complain about grades they earn if they haven’t helped them study. That makes sense, right? So, how can we help?

Healthy eating matters. Let your children know that protein in the morning you feed them gives them energy, that some foods keep them fuller longer, that some foods give them immediate energy that doesn’t last, and others have some sustaining energy benefits. Thank you for feeding your children well.

A good night’s sleep matters. It won’t stop all complaining (of course!), but do let your children know that sleep is good for their brains and hearts. When you don’t give into their complaining and you insist that they settle down and sleep, you’re loving them well. Depending on their age, rest and quiet during the day is good for them, too.

Play matters. Children of all ages need a break from desk time. If you’re not homeschooling them, when they come home from school, encourage them to relax in a way that fits them well before they tackle their homework or sit down to read. A bit of time on electronics might be appropriate, but board games, imaginative and creative play, and large-motor play outside is best for everyone. Play helps emotions mature, which is always good for learning. Play also helps to connect ideas and integrate thoughts and feelings.

Quiet matters. As I wrote about in my book Screens and Teens, quiet is good for thinking. Wisdom rises to the surface. Ideas get sorted out. Healthy decision making is more likely. Create times in the afternoon and evenings when no devices are on and quiet fills your spaces. Let rest occur. And conversations will most likely take place. That’s always a good thing! 

Talking matters. Encourage everyone to share a highlight and a lowlight from the day. Ask and answer questions like, “What’s an important thing you discovered today?” “How did you grow today?” “What are you curious about?” “When did you use creativity today?” Ask your children what they’re learning about. If you know they’re learning about transportation, ask if they learned anything more about it rather than an open question like, “What did you learn today?” This shows that you’re paying attention. They may not say anything, but it makes them feel more important. Every time they get ideas out of their head to talk about them, their comprehension and retention can improve. Just by talking!

Reading matters. Children of all ages benefit from reading books of their choosing. And, they benefit greatly from being read to. This is a major source of listening vocabulary (words they comprehend when hearing them even if they can’t read them on their own). So what? Listening vocabulary is one of the best predictors of school success. Read to your children. And read again!

Studying together matters. when children have tests to study for, papers to write, and other major work to accomplish, they’ll often benefit from being in the room you’re in. You can provide ongoing and timely encouragement and correction. They’ll most likely focus better. It’s also much easier for them to ask you questions because you’re right there.

Remember, don’t complain about your children’s grades unless you’re willing to help them study. Which of these things can you get better at? What would you add to my list?