Report cards are out, and luckily Christmas break means you'll have plenty of quality time to bring up the good and the not-so-good results with your kids. More crucial than dwelling on the unremarkable grades, however, is using this opportunity to implement a plan for the New Year to get on the right track. Resolutions are not only for adults – in fact, constructive goal-setting will give kids the motivation that only comes from being given a fresh start. By using our tips to show your children that January 1st is their very own second chance at success, they'll enjoy the holiday break even more, and will be well on the way to positive changes.
Focus on the positives. Give your child something to feel proud of, even if it's just one grade, a great comment, or his or her attendance record. By showing that the positives are the most important part of their report cards, you will instill the rewarding feeling that will keep them optimistic about the next 6 months of school.
Approach poor grades with care. Rather than preach how your children have failed themselves or you, imply that they have simply not met your expectations and their own capabilities. It will come as no surprise that you have expectations, and it is important for children to know they will be held accountable by invested parents. Remain calm, as losing your temper will both embarrass your child (though you may interpret humiliation as anger) and discourage him or her.
Ask questions, and listen, listen, listen. Even if your child only brings a tidbit of information to the table with his or her answer, this reflection can be telling. Maybe you will realize he has been afraid to ask a teacher for help, or that an underlying learning issue is at hand. Report cards aren't the end of the world, but your child's ability to open up to you can make or break the entire school experience.
Introduce resolutions. Make this a fun, positive family tradition by having your child decorate a “My 2013 Resolutions” poster, and keeping them in sight when school kicks off again in a few weeks. Show children that mom and dad take inventory of their own misgivings, too, and this can include asking “What can I do to help you improve?” Make your own resolutions, such as implementing family reading time or simply getting more involved in a given school subject. Then, your child can make resolutions for homework, behaviour, and habits.
Finally, make a plan for the new year. In addition to resolutions, set realistic short-term goals with your child. Keep your expectations realistic by showing that an improvement is all you are asking for, not for them to go from D's to A's overnight. Be sure to include the positives too – plan to keep the great comments coming and the high marks high. Your child should feel organized, prepared and optimistic, so you can all truly enjoy these weeks off for Christmas.
Written by Suzanne Hartman, Teacher at Oxford Learning which offers programs for children from 3 years old through university. Our goal is to give students the skills they need to be successful in school and in life. Oxford Learning has locations in Halifax, Hammonds Plains and Bedford. For more information about our programs and services, including our camps, visit us at www.oxfordlearning.com