Ask the Experts: Child Support
Children come to accept bedtime more easily when they have a routine and a set time that don't fluctuate from night-to-night, says Tina Schneider, executive director of Montessori School at Holy Rosary. Here are three tips for putting your child to bed.
No electronics. Television and video games can distract children from falling asleep. "It's harder to settle and relax if they're playing video games right up until the lights go out," Schneider says.
Stay close. If a child is afraid of the dark, Schneider says a nightlight is OK, but also make sure the child understands you're nearby.
Walk them back. Some kids wake up a couple of times a night and might pay a visit to their parent's room. "Get the child to go back to their bed, walk them back and tuck them back in," Schneider says. "Reassure them that you're here to help and that they're safe and secure."
A child needs at least one hour of physical activity each day, says Dr. Andrew Hertz, of UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. Here are ways to find the time.
Make a daily routine. Daily family walks or bike rides provide bonding time and keep the child active. "It's not enough to engage your kid in weekend activity," Hertz says. "One flaw parents have is they think it's enough if their kids do sports on the weekends."
Encourage after-school participation. But make sure the kids are involved in an active program. "It's nice to have a computer club after school, but that shouldn't be the only activity," Hertz says.
Choose wisely. If you can't be with your child after school, make sure you choose a baby sitter or a child care provider who will integrate plenty of active outside playtime, Hertz says.
Homework helps kids to take ownership of their work, says Tasha Thompson, middle school director at Andrews Osborne Academy. Here are ways to help your child thrive.
Set short, attainable goals. Goals should not be longer than an academic quarter and must challenge your child's limits. "Having a goal of straight A's to a straight-A student is nice, but is it really a challenge?" Thompson says.
Establish a balance. Homework should not take hours every evening; it should reinforce what's already taught in the classroom. "Downtime and social time are just as important," Thompson says.
Ask for help. Let's face it, it's probably been a while since you've taken calculus or algebra. Don't be afraid to seek help for your kid if homework tests even your limits, Thompson says.
It's important to establish rules and arrive at logical consequences if one gets broken, says Kevin Sweeney, fourth-grade teacher and grade-level coordinator at Hawken School. Here are three tips when you're forced to discipline your child.
Gather all the information. A consequence to a discipline problem should not be presented immediately. "Let the child know there will be a consequence, but that you're going to take a little time to think on it," Sweeney says.
Listen to your child. Invite the child to offer suggestions for punishment. "They're often harder on themselves than parents are," Sweeney says.
Apologize. Your child's acknowledgement of a wrongdoing is a good first step. "It's just the beginning," he says. "The next step is to think of ways that you're going to behave toward them that show you know how to do what you're supposed to do."
Parents naturally want the best for their kids, but it's important not to cross into the realm of being overbearing, says Pat Brubaker, dean of student development at Gilmour Academy. Here are some tips to support your child.
Eat dinner together. Or breakfast, but don't always ask about school, Brubaker says. Turn off the technology and listen to your child.
Let kids explore. Give your child a chance to branch out and find interests that suit them. "Our interests don't always mesh with our children's," Brubaker says. "We can't impose our interests on our children."
Form a village. Sometimes parents can't attend every sporting event or recital. Forming a support group — like a carpool rotation — with other parents helps share the workload. "When a child is on a team a lot of the other parents are in the same situation," Brubaker says.
Music can bring people together, so families should make use of it, says Megan Clay Constantine, director of the department of music at The Music Settlement. Here are three ways to enhance family time with music.
Integrate school songs. Constantine says kids are often singing songs in school. Find out what your kids already know and sing them at home.
Make chores fun. Music can often make chores more enjoyable. "We'd be washing dishes after dinner and my father would put on George Clinton and we would all start dancing," Constantine says.
Attend a lesson too. Taking notes can be especially helpful for parents who do not know how to play the instrument their child is learning. "It allows the parents to check and make sure their kid is practicing the right material," Constantine says.
Reading skills are crucial for academic development. But what if your child struggles with reading? Vanessa Diffenbacher, head of Lawrence School's Lower School, shares some tips for reading development and how parents can figure out if a child needs additional assistance.
Provide a reading corner. "Sometimes if you just make a nice, welcoming place for the children, they're more willing to go and do their reading because they want to be in that place."
Practice vocabulary. If your child is struggling to read, continue to build age-appropriate vocabulary. "Even though they can't read a second-grade book, it's important that they listen to them being read for language development."
Recognize if there is a problem. Consider having a reading assessment done to find the root of the issue. An assessment, which Lawrence provides for free, will help determine whether the components are intact for reading properly.