Academic Success in the New Year
by Carol Chandler-Wood
It’s a New Year and a new semester, so what can you do as a parent or guardian to help your children experience greater academic success in 2010? Following are three important principles which you can apply in your home, thus in your children’s lives.
#1 Students perform best academically when they know WHY they are working hard and why they should study daily. They must have goals set in order to know the purpose of their efforts. Living with INTENT is important to success in all areas of one’s life. Without intent, there is little direction, and with little direction, there is no target at which to aim. If one intends to only pass a class, this is likely what he/she will do. However, if one intends to make an “A”, there is a higher likelihood this will happen. Teaching our children to live with PURPOSE is just as important as working with ambition. Being ambitious involves working towards one’s self-fulfilling pursuits; whereas, living with purpose involves working with a broader scope and for something larger than one’s self.
Therefore, discuss with your children the importance of goal setting and living with intent. Help them discover what their strengths are and where their interests lie. Enable them to understand there is a world beyond themselves and their actions and decisions impact themselves AND others.
#2 Set a positive example of discipline and consistency for your children as it pertains to their school work and other areas of their lives. Remember, they mirror your attitudes and actions! If you find yourself being frustrated with their lack of academic priority, you must examine the messages you may be sending them about their education. For example, if you openly criticize a teacher whether warranted or unwarranted, it provides an excuse for them to not work up to their potential. They will likely blame the same teacher you are criticizing for their lack of success, rather than accept personal responsibility. If you tell them they must earn the privilege to participate in sports by working to their potential, and then they don’t, and you allow them to participate anyway, you have sent a message that sports is more important than their education. The discipline your children develop and demonstrate in their academics will “spill” over into other areas of their lives. The most disciplined students are usually reliable, responsible, and respectful in the classroom and even in their communities and involvement with others outside the realm of their academics.
#3 Set parameters; i.e., rules, for your academic expectations and clear consequences for their lack of being responsible, and then adhere to these parameters. Children need discipline and boundaries. Having these provides a sense of security for children, while developing their own ability to rationalize and problem solve. Expect that they will step out of the boundaries you have set at times as this is a normal part of development; however, they need you to stop them if they step outside of what is considered the safety zone. Teenagers have actually shared with me that they were grateful their parents did not allow them to make bad decisions and demonstrate poor judgment because, if left to follow their own inclinations, they would have and then suffered the consequences! Remember, the frontal lobe of a person’s brain, which is responsible for decision making, judgment, and problem solving, does not usually fully develop until one reaches his or her mid 20s!
I hope 2010 is a most successful year for your children as they live with greater intent, set academic goals and priorities, follow your example in action and attitude, and adhere to the parameters set in your home regarding educational priorities and expectations! Happy New Year!