Help Your Child Be a More Successful Student
To all you parents and teachers, we are thinking of you as you sending and/ or welcoming children back to school this fall.
Here are some tips to help you positively impact your student success, as well as your home or classroom atmosphere. Remember to do these things yourself as you enter into your fall work schedule!
Hydrate. Encourage your child to drink 8 oz of water in the morning before school. Hydration increases learning retention. Send them to school with a fresh bottle of water each and every day.
Feed their brains. After fasting all night long, the brain needs fuel to get going again. Students with low glucose have difficulty understanding new information, have problems with visual and spatial understanding, and don't remember things as well. Find breakfast foods they will eat that contain lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. Try low-sugar yogurts, lean meats, eggs, whole grain toast with low-sugar jam, nuts, and whole-grain oatmeal (not instant). Avoid sugared cereals and refined foods, which actually diminish learning.
Set the tone. Create an upbeat, enthusiastic atmosphere in the morning. Be their role model – engage a great attitude towards your own day! Tell your child what you are looking forward to today. Steer clear of expressing your stress, anger or anxiety with kids – it creates worry for them and negatively impacts their school day. Remember, children downshift to their survival brain under duress – it’s how they create a sense of safety - and that downshifting inhibits their learning.
Say it’s so. On average, children hear 430 negative comments per day vs. 32 positive ones. Parents’ comments determine a child’s concept of themselves and teach children to see themselves as capable or otherwise. Give your children positive messages and teach your children how to empower themselves using their own internal dialogue. Say it out loud – I’m a great learner, I know I’ll figure out the answer, etc. You can play with muscle-testing to show them how their body is strengthened through ‘I can learn’, “I got this” self-talk and weakened when they use ‘I’m stupid’ or ‘I'm no good’ negative self-talk.
Slow Down & Breathe. If you’re hurried, worried or tense, you’re not breathing deep and slow. Children model your patterns – if you hold your breath or have shallow breathing, your child follows suit. Shallow breathing turns off the thinking and learning functions in the brain. Shift yourself (and your kids) with a few good breaths. Practice belly breathing with your kids – send the oxygen deep into the lower lungs (the belly moves out), then release with a long, slow exhalation. The slower you breathe, the calmer you’ll become. Use laughter – laughter engages deeper breathing and reduces stress.
Read to them and engage them in conversation.Studies show a connection between a child’s early vocabulary and their later success. Encourage your children to ask questions during story time, talk about the weather as you are out and about, and identify shapes, colors and names at the grocery store.
Movement makes them smarter. 15- 30 minutes a day of some type of movement helps the brain form more connections. Fun, familiar exercise assists the brain in wiring what children are already trying to learn, while new, slow and precise movement creates new brain connections. Try some of each – playing kickball (if familiar already) or a fun walk, and something new like playing hopscotch or basketball for the first time. To learn faster, slow down the movement.
No matter what they do… provide unconditional love and safety - the two essential human needs. When these essential needs are met, regardless of the mistakes we make as we are learning and growing, we develop into capable and kind adults.
Ask them about their day. Both the pleasant and the unpleasant. Listening is the highest form of love throughout all cultures. Giving them your undivided attention as they talk about what matters to them grows and heals their brains. The best!