3 Smart Ways to Boost your Child’s Academic Success
When I was younger, I was quite that intelligent child. I topped my class every session and represented the school in competitions and challenges. It changed a little later. I finished secondary school and attempted the Nigerian UTME . I did not get into the higher institution the first year, even with a reasonably high UTME score; it was a hellish year.
“Rita has gotten into OAU; see your life.” “Nawa o, are you sure school is meant for you?” “Ah, Olamide, you are still at home? We always thought you’d be one of the first to get into the University o.” “Come and help me stay in the shop since you have not entered school yet na.” Those and many more were words I lived and breathed almost every day, coming from my mum, a church member, or a neighbour.
What’s worse? The words got to me, and I got demoralized, so by the time I was to take the second attempt, it was worse. My score dwindled, and I did not even have a chance to get in. By the third time, I had become my own motivational speaker; I had met older friends who made me feel like I could do anything I put my mind to, and I did. I must note that the first two times, I put in for a course of study my parents wanted me to. They thought I’d be good at medicine and made me try out to study medicine. However, the third time, I put in for the course I wanted, scored high, and got in.
Unfortunately, I have heard people’s experiences that sound similar to mine. In their quest for their kids to be the best, parents sometimes do the direct opposite—demoralize and demotivate. Do your parents motivate you? Do you encourage your children? Here’s a piece that could help you contribute to your kids’ academic success. Let’s dive in.
1 – Help them cultivate a growth mindset at an early age
It begins even before they start schooling—when they start carrying things, trying to walk, etc. When your kid tries to walk and (s)he falls, instead of shouting, scolding, or getting pissed because they have probably tried many times, talk to the child, clap for them, let them know you’re there and rooting for them. Encourage them to try again.
Let’s apply it to academics. When your child fails a test, chickens out of a class debate on stage, or misses some words during a spelling bee, it’s almost a reflex action for you to get angry, scold, shout at, or even spank the child. However, rooting for them, clapping, reassuring and letting them know you’re there for them and believe in them anyway will go a long way.
Let them realize that they are growing and can do better if they adopt a different approach to learning and try again. A growth mindset is when individuals know that they can get better at certain things by doing things differently rather than giving up when they encounter problems. Children need help to get this mindset, and you, as a parent, can help them do that. That way, children will know how to tackle issues they encounter when learning.
2 – Show up, be actively involved in their academics
It goes beyond paying their school fees, excursions, or field trips. It is the seemingly little things like helping them with their assignments, cross-checking their assignments, attending their debates, school parents’ day, or other extracurricular activities, etc.
Research has also proven the importance of reading to and with children, even after they can read. “Benefits of shared reading include facilitating enriched language exposure, fostering the development of listening skills, spelling, reading comprehension and vocabulary, and establishing essential foundational literacy skills. They are also valued as a shared social opportunity between parents and their children to foster positive attitudes toward reading.”
3 – Mind your speech
As often said, words can make or mar. And even when we think children would forget or wouldn’t take it to heart, they remember and feel the hurt. Words we say to our kids can either make them feel like they can take over the world or like they can do nothing.
Rather than saying:
You don’t even know anything,
You’re so dumb,
What is wrong with your brain? or
You’re wasting all the school fees we’re paying
I am proud of you,
You’d do better next time,
I’m here for you,
Failure doesn’t define you,
You’re not a failure,
You go, girl!
I love you.
Hearing affirmative, motivational, and positive words, especially from their parents, makes kids want and strive to do better. On some days, it is all the push and drive that they need for academic success.