When it comes to your kids, changes at home can quickly result in changes at school. A new house, a new school and relationship issues are all normal cycles of an adult’s life, but for kids these changes can make their world feel upside down. Even more, what kids perceive as tough times at home can quickly result in difficulties at school. Whether you’re in the midst of a big change or have just crossed over the hump, here are a few tips to get your child refocused and back on track.
Know the Whole Story
Talk to your child’s teachers. You may want to share a bit about what’s going on at home, and ask if the teacher has noticed any behavior from your child that is out of the ordinary. (Is she raising her hand less in class? Or eating lunch with a different group of friends?) Get an update on your child’s grades, too, but keep in mind that changes in student behavior may be more telling than a low score on her latest quiz.
The Value of Listening
Go out of your way to spend time with your child, and plan for something more significant than a sit-down before dinner. If your child has a school holiday, try to take a day off work and spend the day together—go to your child’s favorite restaurant, spend time in the park or do an activity that is reminiscent of a time when things were a little simpler. Most of all, listen. It may take half the day to get your child to talk about how she feels, but your patience will pay off. This is an excellent opportunity to remind your child that life has its ups and downs, and soon things will be back to normal or you’ll both adapt to find a new “normal.”
The Wonderment of Wonderful
If your child’s grades have started to suffer, remember that a little positive reinforcement can go a long way. Make it a point to emphasize the things that are going well for your child. Perhaps he got a solid score on a math quiz, while history and English are still lagging behind. Now is a good time to focus on the rising grade and build from there. More pressure is not the best motivation when a child is already overwhelmed.
Dinner with the Family
Offer consistency and nutrition at home by eating together and eating well. Students who eat regular meals with their families have better social skills, perform better in school and, according to teachers, are generally better acclimated. The combination of physical activity and good nutrition nourishes both the brain and the body, resulting in students who are alert, participate more in class and perform better on tests.
You and Me Makes “We”
A team wins together and loses together. Let your child know that everything is surmountable. Give her an example in your life when you were faced with a tough uphill climb, and explain how hard work, determination and asking for help were the keys to your success. You can also encourage your child to spend time with a neutral support person, such as a guidance counselor, youth pastor or favorite relative. Sometimes speaking to someone else or even just doing something outside of a normal routine, can do wonders for a child’s perspective.
With patience, communication and caring, the difficult times become pillars of growth for you and your child.