We have a far greater impact on our children than we may initially realize—it usually becomes apparent the first time they're playing and use our vocal inflection or catch phrase. But when we realize our power, we can use it to positively influence our children's academic experiences by adopting a few simple habits:
1. Nail down a consistent schedule.
We all lead busy lives, so it can be easy to dismiss consistent schedules, but they're very important for students. As a parent, you can model good academic behavior by establishing a timeline for your children and for yourself.
A basic schedule might look something like eating dinner at roughly the same time every night, followed by an hour (or more as needed) of homework time, and then an hour of reading. It's simple, but providing this time at roughly the same hour every day will help their brain get into study mode and make that period a very effective study session.
During the study time, make your home a welcoming environment for academics. Turn the television off and ask all other children, even if they aren't students, to engage in quiet behaviors. Adults in the home should also model good behavior by doing their own versions of studying—reading, setting a budget, or filling out paperwork, for instance.
2. Don't let your technology control you.
Technology, in all of its glory, can also be incredibly distracting. Who hasn't been tempted to scroll through social media when we should be focused on something else? Because our children model our behavior, it's important that we not rely on our technology every second for every purpose. During the set study time, cell phones, tablets, and computers not associated with assignments or tasks should be put away.
By using technology as a tool and not as a default, you'll teach your student to think about things in more interesting and creative ways. Also, a break from screen-time will increase your family's quality of sleep and help your eyes rest.
3. Trade scattered for organized.
You've probably noticed that your student struggles to stay organized sometimes—it's an art, and not one that comes easily to many people. But being organized and knowing how to follow directions is crucial to academic, and eventually workplace, success, so it's important to think about how your organization, or lack thereof, might be impacting your child. If you're constantly scattered and disorganized, your student might be too.
To get yourself more together, model behavior in whatever way works for you—envelopes, corkboards, planners, to-do lists, etc. If you try using a planner, either online or on a hard copy, create a family calendar to keep track of various activities and assignments. Students who are able to keep track of their classes and homework assignments can become better at following directions, which leads to more complete and thorough assignments.
Heather Hamilton is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.