You probably don’t need me to tell you how vital it is to prepare children for the challenges they will face in the wider world. It takes resilience to seize opportunities when they arise and overcome the setbacks that life inevitably brings.
Sadly, there is no magic formula for raising successful, fulfilled and happy children… it is a hard job... but there is plenty of research that has pointed to factors that may predict success. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that the role parents play is crucial.
Families who involve their children in activities that allow the children to talk, explore, experiment and wonder, show that learning is both enjoyable and important. OjO’s activities have been designed with this in mind. Our tasks help to motivate children to take pleasure in learning and to want to learn more. They help prepare them to be successful in school—and in life. There is a strong connection between the development a child undergoes early in life and the level of success that the child will experience later in life.
The basics: how to avoid educational setbacks with your child
It may seem like stating the obvious but it is essential that your child:
- Has a healthy balanced diet
- Has regular opportunities for exercise
- Has regular check-ups as suggested by your local health authority
You want your child to develop: confidence, independence, motivation, curiosity, persistence, cooperation, self control and empathy. No pressure there then!
Parenting: The most important job you will ever do!
It’s easier than you think and your role is one of chief motivator and monitor. You will need to set aside some time, preferably everyday, even if it’s only a few minutes. Please remember, there is no such thing as a perfect balance, so don’t add pressure to your life trying to meet an unrealistic goal. Recognise that you can only give so much and decide where you’re going to spend your energy most effectively and happily.
- Be persistent, even if you can only manage a few minutes, it will be worthwhile. Our Five Minute Fillers from our EdVentures Homeschooling kit, for example, are specifically designed to make the most of those times you perhaps dismiss. The ride or the walk to school, shopping in the supermarket, bath time, waiting for the food to arrive in the restaurant. Put that time to good advantage and maybe cut down on the sibling disagreements too.
- Little and often - be guided by your child. You know them better than anyone else, so if they are tired and grumpy why not settle on sharing a story together rather than a more ambitious task. You want your time together to be successful, not stressful.
- Have realistic expectations - all children are different and learn at a pace unique to them. Being aspirational for your little ones is great but as with all things, working with young children is about balance. First and foremost you are a parent.
- Be positive - if things are going well it’s easy to be the cheerleader and keep things rattling along at a good pace. However, being positive really comes into its own when you or your little one is struggling, if you aren’t positive about what you’re doing it’s unlikely your child will want to participate.
- Give lots of praise - you might think this is a no brainer but it’s easy to forget to reward the little things as well as the big successes. Always praise ‘good’ behaviour, for example, “You were brilliant at listening today!” and as far as possible ignore the things that irk! Valuing effort and persistence even if they didn’t get the ‘right’ answer is a powerful motivator and a great learning habit to get into.
- Encourage your child to be an active participant, get them to choose the activity whenever possible and encourage feedback. Actively listening by getting down to their level and maintaining eye contact is important as this demonstrates your commitment. It really helps if you leave your phone out of reach and ear shot!
- Know when to stop - inevitably there will be times when your child rebels and doesn’t want to cooperate with the amazing activity you had in mind. By all means have a go, but if it’s not working out, acknowledge that fact and come back to it on another occasion, refreshed and ready to succeed. Make clear though, that you will be coming back to the activity at a later date.
- Be a good role model - let your child see you reading or learning a new skill, sporting, culinary or academic it doesn’t matter as long as they see the enjoyment you feel.
- Make it fun and rewarding for your child and you! Using the suggestions above should make the experience really enjoyable and for many that is a reward in itself
Keep in mind that children don’t always learn the same things at the same rate. And they don’t suddenly stop doing one thing and start doing another just because they are a little older. The activities Learn with OjO provide will support you and your child as they start out on their journey to become happy, successful and productive lifelong learners.
Learning is complex; it begins at birth and continues throughout life. Parents are the first teachers and role models for their children, and therefore have a strong influence on their learning, use it well and wisely to help your child to be the best they can be, but most of all enjoy being part of this amazing journey.