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12 Ways to Give Kids an Academic Edge

Most parents understand the importance of a good Education.  They even spend countless hours arranging for their children to have successful educational opportunities.  Research proves that when children have a strong academic foundation, it points them in the right direction to a more prosperous future.  Your kids don’t need to be naturally smart to make the honor roll.  You can make a difference and give your children an academic edge by following a few simple tips given by Michele Borba, Ed.D., educational psychologist and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions:  101 Answers To Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries.  Here are Borba’s 12 proven strategies to help your children make the most of their Education:
  1. Make sure your kids are getting enough zzz’s.  A lack of sleep can have a serious impact on children’s ability to learn and perform at school.

  2. Applaud their efforts the right way.  How we praise our children’s schoolwork can enhance or impede achievement.  For example, instead of encouraging your child to bring home straight As, put the emphasis on putting in hard work.  This encourages her to persist and sustain her motivation.

  3. Pay attention to their peers.  Pals play an enormous role in your child’s self-esteem.  Research also reveals that children’s friends can affect their study habits and their overall academic success. (That doesn’t mean you can pick and choose your kids’ friends; but it does help you guide your children to make schoolwork a priority, if you think their buddies are thwarting their success.)

  4. Make family meals a must.  Research has shown that kids whose families eat regular, relaxed meals together are not only less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs or develop eating disorders, but they’re also more likely to achieve higher grades.

  5. Squelch the stress at home.  The conflicts kids face at home can spill over into their school life and impede their learning for up to two days following the stressor.  Find ways to de-stress with your kids:  take long walks, read together, do yoga, or have a family movie night.

  6. Tailor expectations to your child’s abilities.  Every child is different.  While it’s fine to encourage her to try hard and do her best, it’s also important to remember that what is best is different for each child.

  7. Determine your child’s studying style and respect it.  If your son insists on plugging into his iPod when he studies, or if your daughter swears that flash cards are the only way she can learn her spelling words – listen up! While you may prefer a quiet room with no distractions when it comes to getting work done, that doesn’t mean it’s the best way for your kids to concentrate and get down to business.  Harvard researcher, Howard Gardner’s work shows there are eight kinds of intelligences, or ways kids learn best, which include: musical, spatial, logical-mathematical, linguistic, bodily, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and naturalist.  The trick is to pay attention to how your kid learns best. Then, you can identify their unique learning style (not yours!) and tap into it to help them be more successful. For instance, if your child learns best by remembering what she sees, point it out to her and encourage her to draw or mind-map those images.

  8. Help your child get organized.  Organization is a learned skill, but it helps kids achieve while also freeing up time for them to have fun and be with their friends.  Organization can also be the difference between success and mediocre results.  Whether it’s keeping track of research materials for a special project or remembering to bring home an algebra textbook for the night’s homework, children need to be organized to succeed.  Work together to develop a good system that she’ll be motivated to use.  Shop with your child for cool tools that will help her stay organized – folders, agenda, binders, assignment books, memo books, and notebooks.

  9. Teach your child to use time effectively.  Kids need to strike a balance between schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and a busy social life.  Learning to organize time into productive blocks takes practice and experience.  Help your child learn to prioritize by deciding what needs to be done when.  If your child has a social studies final in two weeks, encourage her to start studying two weeks prior.  Check in with her frequently to see how her to-do list is evolving and how she’s prioritizing new tasks.  Help her break down big projects into smaller, more manageable tasks.  Staying focused and seeing work through to completion is an important life skill.  

  10. Teach smart studying skills.  Help your children study actively by encouraging them to read with a purpose, to ask questions as they read, to take and review notes, and to outline and discuss key concepts in their reading.  Encourage them to review their notes daily while the class is still fresh.  To increase motivation, help them discover that what they’re learning matters in everyday life.  If they’re studying fractions, for example, get them to help you bake and let them use your measuring cups and spoons.

  11. Help your child set educational goals that are challenging, yet realistic for their age, maturity, and ability.  In your home, make Education a priority, discuss the value of Education often, and set clear expectations about schoolwork, so your child internalizes high standards for her work, striving for excellence – not perfection.

  12. Provide enrichment.  Always have books and magazines on hand. Enroll your child in extra-curricular learning programs and take advantage of educational events in your community.  Regularly go to the library, exhibits, museums, zoos, planetariums, and other places of interest to boost learning and bring lessons to life.
For more information, please visit www.micheleborba.com.

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Tags: Education, Featured Story, Parenting

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