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Why American parents need to pay attention to their kid’s study
This is a fire drill, folks!
Covid-19 slammed the American educational system, sending kids home from school, overburdening teachers with distance learning and disrupting the world as society shut down by shutting in. Worse, in Sept. 2022, America learned that 9-year-olds’ test scores plummeted, hitting poor and underserved communities harder than their wealthier neighbors, worsening inequity, ramping up injustice and contributing to the current national turmoil.
Even before Covid’s economic and social wreckage, American students had fallen behind their global neighbors. A Feb. 2020 USA Today article informed us that the “latest results of an international exam given to teenagers ranked the USA ninth in reading and 31st in math literacy out of 79 countries and economies …” Even as test scores fall, competition for the top colleges, including Ivy League, second-tier private and public institutions and even less competitive schools blew up, leaving a huge pool of noncompetitive schools that don’t match the return on investment, particularly in science, engineering, math, etc., that elite schools offer.
Education and income are linked
Assuming that most kids won’t win the lottery or live off inheritance, a strong indicator of financial success is tied to education. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a high school graduate can expect to earn less than 60 percent that of a college degree holder and even less than someone with just a few semesters in a college classroom. College expands more than your kid’s mind, it offers her opportunities via lifelong connections made in dorms, dining halls, libraries, classes, organizations and clubs. If you want to help your child (or any child) succeed, read on for the five things you can do to help your kid get a better education.
How to support your kid at school
- Teach them study skills. No one is a born student. There are ways to learn, and like anything else, the better your kid’s study skills, the better they’ll perform in school. Better study skills include organization and time management. Here’s a cheat sheet detailing better studying tips that you can offer your kids:
- Focusing hard on your studies to better learn and master the material will make you a better student.
- Study for 25 minutes, take a 10-minute breather, repeat the process but allow for a longer break after three or four cycles.
- Consider positive and healthy rewards (not bribes) for better grades or test scores.
- Create a fair studying schedule and have your student stick to it.
- Create a comfortable and inviting study area – clean and well-lit, organized around their books, computer, paper, pens, etc., away from distractions.
- Break big tasks down into smaller tasks. Don’t get overwhelmed. Create a to-do list and check them off as you progress.
- Encourage them to learn additional languages, using apps with multiple languages like Spanish, Portuguese, German, Hindi, French, etc. Studies prove that learning a second language improves all aspects of study skills, including concentration, memory, problem-solving and multitasking abilities.
- Teach organizational skills. Let’s face it, we can all benefit from better organizational skills, so teach by example and keep an organized home and life (which is easier said than done, but worthwhile). Introducing checklists to aid task accomplishment and ensuring that students keep their books and supplies well ordered can be a solid start towards an organized life. Regular study hours, and homework routines, including learning activities when there’s no homework, foments good learning habits.
- Accept and incentivize kids’ failures. It’s important that your little learner understands that you’re behind them, even when they fail. Failing is how we learn, and it’s bound to happen to all students sometimes – be supportive and positive. Offer solid praise when your kid makes a real effort, don’t use pressure or punishment, but encouragement via a small reward will be appreciated. If your kid continues to struggle, and you’ve ruled out neurodevelopmental disorders, consider a tutor or additional resources to help junior catch up.
- Support their homework. No one likes homework, but there are ways you can help your kid help themselves to finish off their assignments. Some we’ve discussed, like clean, organized study areas, study and homework checklists, established (undistracted) study routines, well-earned praise and possible tutors. But you can do more by meeting teachers to assess their expectations and homework approach and ensuring your kids do their own work (even if you really want to help with that math problem).
- Encourage your kids to read more. Do you ever turn off the TV, put away the phones, tablets and other screens, and read as a family? Do you take your kids to the library, bookstores or reading events aimed toward young people? Do you have a bookshelf with reading material for adults and kids? If not, lead by example and let your children see you reading. Take them to the library or bookshop so they can pick out their own books, and if possible, start keeping books around the house.
There’s no better way for you to prepare your kid for a successful life than by encouraging them to read, study and take their schooling seriously. As shown, education is a stepstone to a better life, but learning takes practice: the younger your kid starts, the better they’ll become. Lead by example and create an environment that values education, learning and curiosity and both you and your child will benefit.