Help! Moooooooom, I need help.
I helped my kids in school and my kids really did need help. School today is hard! I think it is so much harder than when I went to school. I got into the University of Florida without a single AP class. I took the SAT one time. I didn’t need or receive any help from my parents. The school workload today is different and you may want to consider how you can help your child succeed in school without, of course, doing their work for them.
Most of what I helped my kids with (other than math–math is so hard) was understanding the disciplines of success for any endeavor–school, college, work, sports, etc. Three musts for success in life and all of the above are as follows:
1. Must Manage Time Well
The most recent numbers from the National Center for Educational Statistics reveal that kids spend, on average, just over 33 hours a week at school. And that doesn’t even include the time they spend doing homework—an estimated 2-4 hours per week in elementary and middle school and as much as 17.5 hours per week in high school. That means your child will be spending an average of 35-51 hours each week simply attending school and doing the assigned homework. That is a lot of time! I shared that with my kids. I told them that school was a full-time job and if they treated it as such they would do well.
When my kids came home with a bad grade and launched into a looong, detailed explanation of how it happened, complaining that they simply “didn’t have enough time” to study well for their test. I gave them a friendly reminder along the lines of, “Hmm, didn’t I see you playing on your phone and watching TV and dilly-daddling around your room the night before the test? Maybe you could have used that time to study.” If we don’t see our kids managing their time well, it’s critical that we point it out and be a source of encouragement (hopefully not nagging!) moving forward.
2. Must Make School a Top Priority
In our family, our list of priorities goes like this: God, Family, School, Extracurricular Commitments, Friends. So when things get busy, the first things to go in our kids’ lives are time hanging out with friends and their extracurriculars. The three things that we never sacrifice are time with the Lord, time with family, and time on schoolwork.
I’ll never forget the year my son won an award in 3rd grade for being “the fastest” to get his work done in class. To this day, I believe it’s because it had been instilled in his mind that getting his school work done came before playing outside. And getting outside was his goal, so he learned to finish fast! It’s so important to prioritize things for your family from the start so your kids know what is expected and can make choices that respect those priorities.
3. Must Put in their Best Effort
When kids view school as their job, they’ll quickly realize that more than just minimum effort is required. But if you don’t enforce the effort they may let it slide. When I found my kids sliding I would remind them that we want to give 110%. We want to give 100% because that is expected. Then we want to give an extra 10% for the Lord. That is going beyond what is expected and delighting God with our efforts.
When my kids were in their teens they went to Kanakuk camp. The very first year they went, at the end of camp, I went to the closing program. Both my girls won the same award–the 110% award. Their counselors independently said the same thing–your daughter went above and beyond everything I asked of her. The girls were just used to giving that level of effort.
As parents, we should be helping our children build a foundation now that will help them succeed for the rest of their lives, and a strong work ethic is valued throughout a person’s life! Encourage your child to give schoolwork their all. Ultimately, our kids have to understand that the more they put into it, the more they’ll get out of it.
What habits do you think are most important to help kids succeed academically? Let us know in the comments below!