All that fretting and fighting to land your child in your choice primary school is about to pay. Come the New Year, he will embark on a journey that will determine his future. So while you’re probably getting his new ergonomic school bag (no less), a brand new set of stationery, and school books all well labelled in anticipation of the first day of his rest of his life, you’ve also scheduled in his tuitions, swimming and piano lessons for the next five years.
But don’t forget that the most important lessons begin at home. And while there are lots of mind-stretching and heuristics classes out there, what really makes a difference is what he learns at home – from you. So read on…
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to create a safe environment at home that encourages sharing. And by that, we mean by “active listening”. Active listening is when you listen attentively to when he speaks, and respond appropriately to build mutual understanding. Don’t be too quick to respond or scold if your child mentions anything that is alarming to you – this will make him clam up.
What your child will learn: That you care about his well-being. This allows you to understand him better, as he will communicate to you his wants, dreams and fears.
Build strong family bonds
Spend time together as a family either engaging in activities or just communicating at home. It might be a good idea to spend more time outdoors and not coop up at home. Being outdoors develops a child’s resilience quite effective, and this might help him later on when he has to be actively involved in sports at school.
What your child will learn: One’s relationships with others is important, and that family is a constant in life as a pillar of strength he can rely on. It also teaches an appreciation for nature and the outdoors.
Don’t compare him to his brother – or anyone else
We’re guilty of it because it sneaks in in the most innocent of times: “Why are you so slow? Your brother was in the car five minutes ago!”, or “Your brother took six months to be potty-trained, but you, just one month.” By doing that, you’re damaging your child’s self-esteem, and adding friction between the siblings. So, just appreciate him for who he is, together with his unique strengths and flaws.
What your child will learn: His self-worth does not equate to his academic achievements and your approval.
Setting realistic expectations
Discuss with him what he would like to achieve in school, and how he can go about doing it. This is not limited to only exams; it is as important to talk to him about learning objectives and goals during term time. It might also be important to discuss why he wants to achieve certain grades. It he says he wants to be better than his classmate, you know there’s a lot more processing you need to do to ensure he doesn’t place competition and the gratification that comes with “winning” at the core of his values and motivations.
What your child will learn: Make smart choices and be responsible for your own actions.
Deal with your own disappointments
If you child comes home with a 70/100 for a test, it is important to find out why he feels disappointed. He would likely say he thought he’d do better, or that he knows you were expecting more. First and foremost, learn to take it in your stride. Kids need to experience the process of making mistakes and failing, and then bouncing back and recovering. All you have to do is to be emotionally present for them.
What your child will learn: A champion is not one who always wins, but one who never quits.